AfrikaBurn: Celebrating talent, then burning their work
In a quiet street in Marina da Gama I met a clock. A friend introduced me and I gaped at the clock in wonder. It was unlike any clock I had seen before.
For one thing, it was more than 3-metres high, and it was built of wood. Within the sturdy wooden framework dozens of hand-cut cogs and gears, pulleys, weights and levers ticked and tocked and turned noisily while a wooden pendulum swung to and fro. I could have stood watching it for hours.
The other thing that made it unusual was that it was created to be burned. That’s why it was made of wood. It must have taken hundreds of hours to build. It was originally meant to be taken to the 2020 annual AfrikaBurn festival in the wide plains of the Tankwa Karoo, but the festival was cancelled because of Covid 19. This year’s AfrikaBurn has also been cancelled.
At first I stood shaking my head in horrified wonder. How could anyone spend so much hard work and ingenuity creating something so wonderful simply to burn it? I am told the clock is called “time burns.” Then I think I understood. This is an act of pure unselfishness in a world driven by greed and avarice.
Most of our leaders — political and commercial — don’t care a hoot about the hungry and homeless, the broken roads, bankrupt airlines and ill-equipped hospitals. They cling to their positions for the expensive cars, Rolex watches and lavish lifestyles that go with them. It’s all about “Me! me! Me!”
The world’s shipping is being held up because some greedy businessmen created what must surely be the ugliest ship ever built in order to transport more goods than anybody else and earn more money than anyone else. No wonder that monstrosity got stuck in the Suez Canal.
I believe many artists used to go to the Karoo for the AfrikaBurn event. They shared their inspirations, celebrated their talent and then burned their work and returned empty-handed. The hot Karoo wind swept away the ashes of their endeavours and the great stillness returned, as it has always done. I find that a humbling thought.
A cowboy won first prize in a rodeo in a small Western town. He was so proud of this that he rode his horse to the local saloon and hitched it to a lamp-post while he went in for a celebratory drink.
When he came out he saw somebody had painted his horse’s genitals red. Furious, he stormed back into the bar and shouted: “Okay, which of you bastards painted my horse’s bollocks red?”
From the back of the room a giant of a man stepped forward. Built like a mountain, he had two Bowie knives and a revolver on his belt. He was more than two-metres tall.
“I did,” he said, ”so what?”
“I just wanted to tell you,” said the cowboy meekly, “ the first coat’s dry.”
* "Tavern of the Seas" is a column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.