Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bartering FUN …

Stonehenge Farm, Tankwa Karoo desert in the Northern Cape province of South Africa is where the party begins today, i.e. during the last five days of April 2012 and where MIRAGE is the theme for this year’s festival.

Inspired from the Burning Man at Black Rock City, Nevada, USA., this annual Africa Burn festival is the temporary home in middle of no where which comes to life and thousands of like-minded people who have marked the calendar – the first thing on getting a new year calendar, enjoy benign fun, a mind blowing party. Tankwa Karoo converts to a temporary city of art, theme camps, costumes, music and performance.

Arguably the most creative gathering of party animals at Africa Burn, you get to enjoy all shapes and sizes in rainbow colours, persuasions and personalities. In short, a fantastic human circus of which every one becomes a part of it. Shows, parades, processions with amazingly creative floats, food stalls, gift kiosks, wellness and spiritual enlightenment booths, neon lights, music, man on stills and unicycles ….. endless. Huge effigies and geometric shapes dots the barren land converted to marry land.

The festival gets it foundation from principles like communal efforts, active participation, civic responsibilities, immediacy, de-commodi-fication, gifting, leave no trace, radical inclusion, radical self-reliance and radical self-expression.

Burners, as the participators and volunteers are called, get active and well ahead of the festival. Entry is based on limited tickets sold prior (not at the gate) and is available in Tier 1 to 4 to suite every pocket while children under 14 are free. Mostly, burners but it on internet and with photo proof, line up in huge ques to be a part of the festival as soon as it gets going.

The best part of the festival is that most of the things happening are done voluntarily. Authorities have already started hunting for help and communicate to volunteers by personal and social messages. The first rule at the Tankwa Town is of Barter – meaning no commerce. Nothing is “sold”, it is always “given”. Gifts are prepare for the festival in advance and carried in loads, while, many are returned when bartered. It is to say, the desert town has seen no currency. Completely unknown and unseen people residing somewhere on the surface of the earth, come to enjoy and share happiness. At the end of the festival they all disappear back in the desert, not to be seen ever again. Things they share could be anything. Say, beads, bottles of water, olives & sweets, incense sticks, candles, caps, badges, services ….. list goes endless. With all of these, one and only one common thing every one shares is FUN.

The festival marks it end with burning the effigy on the last night of the festival and burners bid adieu to see each other the next festival. It is common amongst burners to say “you return from this festival with a slightly altered view of life and the Universe.”

More about the festival on :

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