I am not the same person I was when I stepped into Afrika Burn. Not by a long shot. First off, I am a great deal more fun! Don’t even ask, as the answer is bound to be yes! Yes, let’s try that and go there and meet people and talk shit and hang out and listen to music. Yes, and a thousand times yes! Why are we still talking man? Let’s go dammit!
When I confess to being an introvert, most people are shocked. After all, I am a musician and can always be seen mingling and having a ball of a time. It took me a while to realise a few things I was oblivious of before the Burn. I was carrying around so many burdens that were not my own. Conforming to a set of behaviors while suffering in silence. My only solace being Music. Yet the truth was this: I was too afraid to write music. As I knew the ugly truths I would encounter. So I ran away instead…
By the time I left the Burn I had a few choice words to share with people in my circle. My Mother being one and my now ex boyfriend. I remember one of our last conversations as I was about to step into Afrika Burn, ‘I hope you find what you are looking for…’ I had no idea what he meant and thought he was being dramatic. Turns out he was right. I found a more honest version of myself there.
Forget the art, the starkness of the environment, the crazy outfits and even the music shall we? Let’s focus on the people I met!! The openness with which I was received remains with me still. No one hid anything in the desert. It wasn’t possible. Every cliche mentioned about the desert is accurate. All of them. I was completely transformed in ten days. A process that in the outside world, would have taken years.
Did I mention that I fell stupidly in love there also? This was not the plan at all! I mean who needs that kind of drama in one’s life eh? Still. There he was. A man I felt perfectly in sync with. Words poured out of him and encircled me. Words filled with sharp edged, assassins heels and a heart scarred blue. Words I needed to feel safe…as I could not speak. Call it a delayed emotional response or trauma, but I just returned from back to South Africa with so much silence and no means to decodify what I experienced, until he rocked up.
It was a blessing and a curse of course. I confided in Kevin and will never forget his words, ‘What happens here does not need to leave the Burn…’ But the wheels were set in motion already. It didnt matter if the man I had fallen for was not in my life, I could no longer live with the lie, the shadow of a human I had become during my relationship. The curse bit? For a while I was unable to see anyone, nor could they reach me if the emotional and physical attraction did not rival what I felt during the Burn. Anything less, I told myself, is waste of time. The upside? I never lied to any man who crossed my path since. In fact, I never lied to myself either.
So much transpired between then and now. My trip to India, the pandemic and my father passing (add in two Summercamps) and what you see is what you get. The Burn, you must understand reminded me of the warmth that comes with being true. When all I knew was untruth and darkness. My father’s death became the transformative flames from which I emerged, Phoenix like back towards my true self.
Now I carry the Burn with me. The people, the Music, the art, the deep appreication for any form of kindness. Hell, I even carry bits of him with me. But not the him I fell in love with…. the me he reminded me of. The me I saw reflected in his eyes, as we talked, walked and laughed. The person I forgot while trying to please everyone else. The person I now am. Slightly less afraid…with a heart that’s as open as the sky and warm as the sun above.
There are no coincidences. No mistakes. We meet people when needed. The only thing that matters is the meaning we give it, how we allow it to shape our lives and the truth we encounter there. That was what Afrika Burn taught me.