Why has AfrikaBurn searched for land?

The motivation to identify and secure a new site were related to four primary aims:

1) Agency

When starting AfrikaBurn the intention was never to just start an event for the sake of starting an event. There were always lofty ideals floating around in various permutations and intensities – but primarily there was broad agreement that AfrikaBurn was to be a tool, a transformative space, a change vector (where fun is the vector for change) an intense experience portal, which would reach out beyond Tankwa Town and make changes in the world. With the exponential growth of the event, focus in the early years was largely aimed at the event and the activities related to that. As time has moved on, our capacity to expand and grow programs informed by lofty ideals beyond the talk shop has grown – and we’re now poised to begin the process of realising many aspects of our planned future.

This move to land provides AfrikaBurn with a new blank canvas, a space to accelerate projects not directly related to our event.

2) Sustainable / Innovative Development of Event Related Infrastructure

It’s very important that our event’s infrastructural elements can be developed to become more efficient and sustainable over the long term, in terms of storage and maintenance. This includes our many toilet structures, vehicles and work materials (such as wood, metal, streetlights, solar bank, shipping containers, stretch tents and associated equipment).

3) Spatial Considerations

The space required for our event size has meant that as our event has grown to the level of 10 to 13 000 people in the last 5 years, so space at Stonehenge Private Reserve has become a challenge. This has resulted in some very densely camped areas – and these are a concern from a health & safety aspect in terms of providing access zones for emergency and fire response teams. An additional constraint is the space available for the placement of many large artworks (some of which require significant distance between them for artistic or practical reasons) and theme camps and sound systems. These, in terms of their sound footprint in proximity to other sound stages, artworks and camping zones, similarly require space to be placed appropriately.

Curatorially, having more breathing space for artworks and activities on the Binnekring is also important.

(Cederberg-Tankwa Wilderness Corridor map courtesy of the Wilderness Foundation)

4) Biodiversity and Restoration / Regeneration

In keeping with the nature of our organisation being environmentally-minded, we have always done our best to avoid a situation where expansion of our event would come at the cost of impacting previously undisturbed areas of the Tankwa Karoo landscape. At the Stonehenge Private Reserve site, this would be unavoidable, as – even though unused and flat, barren stretches of gravel / rock do exist – new access roads would inevitably have to be created, which would come at the cost of clearing well-established areas of bush that are a visible result of many years of remediation and recovery.

In keeping with the Leave No Trace principle, and its aim to leave areas better than we find them, so an event site that is characterised by a degraded state featuring flat sheets of rock pavement (for event activity), as well as areas of high biodiversity (for preservation, restoration and regeneration) is suitable. By having qualified specialists analyse and identify areas suitable for our event purposes, AfrikaBurn can be confident that its activities will make the least impact – and should the greater portion of land also feature areas of biodiversity that require protection and restoration, this would enable AfrikaBurn and its community members to embark on a programme of preserving and restoring biodiversity. Additionally, proximity to the Cederberg-Tankwa Wilderness Corridor (see below) would make it possible to partner with the Tankwa Karoo National Park in terms of enabling its plans for the expansion of this corridor, which is home to critically endangered species. In achieving this, the AfrikaBurn event area (Tankwa Town, in its new location) would be separate from areas of existing sensitivity or biodiversity, in order to ensure that no activities would impact these.