Tankwa Town (the name of the event site where AfrikaBurn is held) is in the middle of the Karoo Desert. The elements are extreme - searing heat, freezing cold, dust storms and yes, even the occasional flood. It is a survival situation - and that's just the weather.
So how do ensure your own personal safety in such an extreme environment? The key is taking responsibility for yourself and looking out for those around you too.
- Write your camp address & ID number on the underside of your wristband - this way, in an emergency, our team will be able to find your camp and check with the folks at Die Hek who you are.
- Always carry water with you. Drink water regularly, especially if drinking alcohol. Try to drink a minimum of 1.5 litres a day. The best gauge of hydration? If your piss is clear, you’re in the clear. To avoid a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), don't hold in your pee! Empty your bladder regularly - especially those of you with vaginas!
- Bring sunscreen and a hat and use them both.
- Bring dust goggles and a bandana – dust storms are only fun if you’re prepared.
- Personal lighting: It's dark in Tankwa Town at night - and there are mutant vehicles, bicycles and more travelling around the Binnekring. Don't be a Darkwad - light your body when going out at night to make yourself visible. Make sure that you can see and that others can see you. Add a light to your costume, always carry a headlamp and for stofadil's sake, light up your bicycle (especially if you aren't going to be with it at all times)!
- There are snakes, spiders and scorpions in the Tankwa - If the weather is balmy, wear closed shoes at night. Check your shoes before pulling them on, keep your tent zipped up tight to keep the gogga's out and check your bedding and tent before packing up. In 2022 we found 6 scorpions under two DPW tents. The threat is real.
- Prepare your camp for emergencies - Nominate a safety officer to manage the safety aspects of your camp.
- Ensure that you have a comprehensive first aid kit (not just plasters and antiseptic) and that everyone in the camp knows where it lives (and that it gets put back there after use).
- Bring a (serviced) fire extinguisher along and make sure everybody knows how to use it and where it is stored.
- Have at least one 5 litre bucket filled with sand for extinguishing fires in a pinch (and keep it close to your fireplace)
- NEVER, ever – ever – leave an unattended fire, or smouldering coals, at your camp. The desert wind can whip up in seconds and start a runaway wildfire that could destroy your camp and vehicles. Not ideal.
- Radical self-reliance when things get hectic can look like leaning on campmates, neighbours and friends, asking for help, and figuring out ways to prevent common challenges before they happen.
The More Serious Matters
Yes AfrikaBurn is a magical wonderland where we can all be our 100% authentic selves and frolic freely through the dust (I mean, this is a massive part of why we go, right?) BUT... incidents do happen. Things can get stolen (although please remember that very often the thing has just fallen behind the couch), people get hurt (if you die at AfrikaBurn you die in the default world too, kittens) and sadly there are some humans that still, to this day, do not care a wad for consent.
So what to do if you or someone in your crew has something a bit more serious happen to them? Keep reading below.
Radical self-gifting is just rude, but sometimes it does happen. So what do you do if you turn around and suddenly the thing that was righttherejustasecondago has seemingly grown legs and taken a walk? Step one - DON'T PANIC and step two head to the Just In (e) booth at Off Centre Camp to report it missing. The wonderful people (wo)manning the booth will be able to take your details and will also escalate the incident to our site managers if necessary.
AfrikaBurn ain't no picnic. It ain't no disco neither (although both of these things have been known to happen in Tankwa Town) and sometimes people get hurt. Whether you've tripped over some rebar and gashed your leg badly or misjudged your step when coming off the throne, sh*t happens and sometimes you need medical assistance that's beyond your or your homie's capabilities. That's why we have medics. If you or someone nearby gets injured and it seems serious - DO NOT MOVE THEM. Flag down a ranger (or flag down someone to go and get a ranger). They are equipped with radios (and training) and will be able to assess the situation and report it as needed.
Harassment and Assault
People are gonna be people and while we preach the gospel of "don't be a dick", some folks don't listen. If you ever feel harassed by an individual or if something goes down and it ends up in violence please find a ranger to step in. If you can't find a ranger then head to the Off Centre Camp and find the VOC (Venue Operations Centre) where you will be able to speak to one of our site managers who will assess the situation and help you to access the resources you need.
Sexual Misconduct, Gender-based Violence and Rape
No matter how many times we talk about it, some people just do not get the concept of consent. The consent standard in our community is an ENTHUSIASTIC YES!
We take any incident where one of our community feels violated incredibly seriously. If you or someone you know experiences any sort of sexual discomfort from another participant, please head to Sanctuary at Off Centre Camp to report it. Our Sanctuary team is there 24/7 to assist with any incident under this umbrella and they will escalate it with sensitivity and anonymity.
If anything happens to you that makes you unhappy or makes you feel uncomfortable, please report it as soon as possible (to a ranger, or to the site managers at the VOC). We want everyone to feel safe in our community, and it's only when our crew knows about incidents that they can effectively deal with them.
Support Resources On-Site
This is where you will find peer support services. This might be for all sorts of difficulties – overwhelm from the environment, or baggage from the default world, challenging relationship issues brought to a head by the desert environment, unexpectedly difficult psychedelic moments, or community needs.
Sanctuary is a calm place of safety where anyone having challenging experiences in the dust (and at our events elsewhere) is able to go for assistance. Participants can often become overwhelmed by the extreme desert conditions: wind, dust, SOOP (sound out of place), temperatures, intense partying and the stress of camping.
Sanctuary offers a safe and supportive space at Off Centre Camp between Medics and Ranger HQ, to regain balance through peer support and practical help with well-being like rest, refreshments and care. Sanctuary also works with AfrikaBurn to put prevention strategies in place to reduce future community problems.
If you or your loved ones think you may have an alcohol or substance use problem there are some supports and solutions available in Tankwa Town. If you’ve had a difficult experience in the past, please pop by to chat with Sanctuary - they will help you make sense of it and can help prevent it in the future.
If you are a sober burner, we have participant driven sober support networks that are just waiting to meet you! If you’d like to support sober initiatives, take part and help to arrange meetings and build a sober living camp, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
When in doubt you can ask advice directly from Sanctuary or Rangers - we keep our ears very low to the ground, so that any important health issues can be identified early. We also help people identify personal potential risks and how to avoid them.