AfrikaBurn 2024: 29 April to 5 May

Photo Courtesy of Manon Layrol

What on earth is DPW?

… AfrikaBurn’s very own ‘Department of Public Works’.

DPW are a group of crazy, cool, hardworking cats who build up as well as break down the entire infrastructure of AfrikaBurn. Everything in Tankwa Town – from the toilets to the road signs, street lights, operations centre, signage, gate, booths and crews etc. etc. You name it, they’ve had their hands on it. With their (sometimes) trusty crane truck and fleet of quirky cars they cruise around the desert; lifting and moving heavy things, knocking in rebar, building, painting, recycling and just generally being bad-ass.

You’ll see DPW every morning on the toilet runs; show them some love! DPW may flash past you in a stream of cross-dressed chaos, or you’ll catch a glimpse of them jolling hard out there in the dust. Look out for the characteristic yellow glow that follows us, it’s usually a sign someone is working hard.

DPW logo

Photo Courtesy of Heather Rodwell


The first marks made in the dust … These people know everything about where anything goes, including the roads. Working closely with town planning and theme camps they create the framework from which the city grows upon. Like the idea of seeing the whole site first hand, don’t mind moving rocks around in the sun? Then this is the department for you.


Where does that highway go? What road is this again? Where did I park my car? Where did that rad person say they live? Toilets? Where can I find a medic? Signage helps you answer all these questions and more when you’re in Tankwa Town.


Ever smashed rebar into the ground in the Tankwa? Now try doing it over 40 times a day, 6 days a week. These guys know the ropes about everything concerning tents, shading, scaffold towers and fences. We live, eat and sleep under tents and the Rigging Crew are our master home-makers.


Let there be light! (and cold beer)

It takes a lot to build a city, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without our electrical grid. Lights, fridges, radios, comms of any kind, the doef doef (which we love) all rely on this hard working crew. Streetlight maintenance is aided by our uniquely tall service vehicle called Bluebell.

Photo Courtesy of Janine Webster

Construction and Workshops

Quaggafontein is far from anywhere really, therefore we have our own fully functioning group of workshops. Carpentry, metal and the paintshop. You name it, we build it. Decks, benches, coffee tables, blackboards, floors, lamp posts, the air control tower, booths and much more are all built from scratch and painted on site. Our precious tools are all kept safe by the Quartermaster.


We have a fleet of special needs vehicles (some are gifted to DPW) that require a dedicated and loving touch to keep them running. Our maintenance team makes sure that all the generators, tools and vehicles are living their best life in the dust.

HEAT (Heavy Equipment and Transport)

Remember those floors, lamp posts etc. that we just mentioned? They all need to go somewhere. Think loading and unloading trailers, crane truck and forklift antics, tetris wars and logistical planning. It takes strong hands, organisation and team spirit for everything to find its right place in the sun.


(the crew with the highest satisfaction rating in 2023!)

Our Loo crew ain’t afraid to get down and dirty. They build the toilets, keep the toilet paper buckets stocked and the loo’s looking fresh. There’s nothing quite like a loo with a Tankwa view.  After the event, we process everyone’s toilet contributions into ‘humanure’, a highly valuable resource created out of waste. Look out for the toilet run teams every morning, they always appreciate a helping hand.


Water is life, and a crucial part of keeping us fed, clean and healthy in the desert. The plumbing team sets up all the infrastructure for drinking water, washing up, showering (yes DPW does shower)  and grey water. Ever found yourself inside a jojo with a scrubbing brush and a bar of soap? … A regular for the plumbing team.

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Diederichs


DPW aspires to Leave No Trace of their own when we leave, and therefore has its own recycling depot. This team sorts and bales all our waste and loves the occasional incinerator party. They, along with the toilet crew are the unsung heroes of DPW, handling any hazardous waste … You can’t keep secrets from recycling.


The kitchen is the beating heart of DPW. The only crew with 3 deadlines a day and a walk-in cold room. We keep DPW fed as well as all the medics, fire teams, operational teams, rangers and volunteers. Up to 300 people, 3 meals a day … No Problem for the kitchen crew.

They are the first to rise and often the last to stop working. The kitchen is one of the hardest working crews in Tankwa Town, with the biggest hearts, banging tunes and the best recipes.

Crew Welfare

There’s no denying the desert can be a crazy place to work. We’re a family, and like to look after each other. Crew welfare and the fluffers are dedicated to making sure everyone has the best possible experience on DPW. These guys are your go to for any reason, they provide icy drinks, hugs, snacks, safety gear, heart to hearts, sunscreen or a shoulder to cry on.

Photo Courtesy of Heather Rodwell