Every year, for the past decade, as the sun sets on summer and autumn begins, so too does the pilgrimage to Tankwa Town. For 11 months of the year this little corner of the Karoo is an open empty landscape inhabited by endemic flora and fauna. This very localised, fragile ecosystem is home to several species of both plant and animal that are specific to this area only. However, for that twelfth month there is an influx, a migration if you will, of creatures fiercely fantastical, loudly musical and wildly imaginative.
For one month a year this beautiful and remarkable piece of veldt is transformed into Tankwa Town, and Afrika Burn once again. An offshoot of Burning Man festival (which is held in the Nevada Desert in the States every year) Afrika Burn is a festival with a difference. It is a space where self expression, art and total inclusion are encouraged and celebrated. Tankwa Town is erected each year to accommodate the ever growing number of people who trek out to the desert to play. But there is so much more than play involved.
Music, costumes, art. And every night a Burn. Huge structures are erected in the Tankwa Desert around which this clan gathers to watch as they burn. And as these structures burn to the ground so too do boundaries, preconceptions and life’s daily grind.
With 11 Guiding Principles that govern the way in which people are expected to behave and participate, occupants of Tankwa Town are given the chance to create a wonderful wonderland where anything is possible. Among these Guiding Principles is the concept of Radical Self Reliance, whereby attendees are asked to “discover, exercise and rely on their inner resources.” In other words they are asked to be totally self reliant, and to do for themselves whatever is needed to survive in whatever level of comfort they require. The idea is to take EVERYTHING that is needed to live in the desert for the duration of the festival, and to then take it ALL home.
Tankwa Town quite literally goes up overnight. From small groups to large theme camps, a small desert dwelling is borne. Tents, caravans, Winnebagos and makeshift homes descend on this small corner of the Karoo.
At Tentickle we are proud to say that we have been involved from the very first year. Our stretch bedouin tents are perfectly suited for Afrika Burn. They are the ideal structure for desert life, having been inspired and adapted from those originally used by the Bedouin Tribe. Strong enough to withstand the howling desert wind, designed to protect against the harsh sun and waterproof to boot, our stretch tents are a home from home for many Burners.
This year saw more people than ever before pack up and head along the infamous R355, also dubbed the Tyre Shredder, towards Tankwa Town. The theme was The Gift, and a gift it was. Colour, creativity, total acceptance of each other and the environment, self sufficiency and self reliance were all in abundance. The art was inspiring, as were the outfits. The spirit uplifting and the even the weather came out to play.
As participators in the Burn, we work closely with the organisers to ensure that the Guiding Principles are adhered to. We encourage the idea of radical self reliance, but also understand the practical implications of setting up structures such as ours. There is, of course, a huge safety implication so what we aim to do is to adopt the Each One, Teach One principle where we work with camps to set up their structures – like so much behind Afrika Burn, collaboration is key. We are also very strong supporters of the Principle of Leave No Trace. Our stretch tents are totally neutral when it comes to their impact on the fragile desert ecosystem. We bring everything we need with us for set-up, and EVERYTHING leaves with us too. We are dedicated to supporting and advocating these guiding principles, and are proud to be part of this event.