When considering Burning Man as a cultural experience, most don’t realize that the community built around it is international and that there are smaller Regional Burns all over the globe. AfrikaBurn, held outside of Cape Town, South Africa, is the largest of them all with an approximate population of 12,000, compared to Burning Man’s 70. Many of these Regionals do have some sort of main effigy that burns at the end of the week, similar to Burning Man’s The Man.
At AfrikaBurn, the main effigy is the San Clan, sourced from a tens of thousands of years old ancient pictograph illustrated on cave walls by South Africa’s First Nation, the San people. It depicts a genderless entity with many legs, two heads, two arms and one body, serving as a powerful statement promoting “the unity of intent.” The founders of AfrikaBurn sought and received the support of the San elders and there is actually a San people camp presence at the event. Every year, a new take on the San Clan design is implemented into the AfrikaBurn effigy. It is beautiful, moving and inspirational.
I attended Arizona’s Regional Burn, Saguaro Man, a couple of years back, where I learned about the previous incarnation of their regional event which was known as Toast: An Arizona Regional Burn. Toast’s primary effigy was a gigantic piece of toast. Multiple inquiries about why a giant piece of toast were met with the same reply: Because it was funny.