The farm is very isolated, as it is situated half-way along the R355, a 250 kilometres (160 mi) long untarred road between Calvinia and Ceres in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.
The event was originally called Afrika Burns, however owing to concerns about the name having possible negative connotations there was a public call for proposals on 15 May 2008. On 16 July 2008 the new name, AfrikaBurn, was officially announced via email. The new name preserves the identity of the event, but rules out possible negative interpretations by changing the name from something that happens ('burns') to Africa, to something that happens (a 'burn') in Africa.
By analogy to the Man at Burning Man, the main sculpture at the event is called the San Clan. It is designed to look like a San rock art glyph of a group of people. The intention is to convey the idea of unity and community at the event. Like some sculptures at the event, it is burnt. The burn used to take place on the Saturday night, but is now scheduled for Friday nights in order to accommodate weather delays and provide participants from far afield with more time to return home from the event.
AfrikaBurn is a community of participants who come together to create art, burning structures, costume, performance, theme camps, music, mutant vehicles and much, much more. All of this is created through the volunteer culture of the citizens of Tankwa Town in the Karoo once a year.
AfrikaBurn's aim is to be radically inclusive and accessible to anyone. The touchstone of value in our culture will always be immediacy: experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship.
Nothing is for sale but ice at the event. Nothing. There are no vendors, no advertising or branding. It just doesn't fit in. It's not even a barter economy – it's a decommodified zone with a gift economy that's about giving without expecting anything in return.