Bushfire, Afrikaburn up in smoke thanks to Covid-19 — and Cape Town jazz fest also silenced

13 March 2020 - 17:07 By Tanya Farber
Participants at AfrikaBurn in the Tankwa Karoo get down to frivolous fun in the desert dust.
Participants at AfrikaBurn in the Tankwa Karoo get down to frivolous fun in the desert dust.

Three major festivals on the arts scene were postponed or cancelled on Friday because of Covid-19.

Afrikaburn, which takes place in the Tankwa Karoo, and the MTN Bushfire Festival, which takes place in Eswatini each year, were among the events pulled from the calendar amid the rapid spread of the virus.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival was also postponed.

MTN Bushfire Festival, which draws thousands of revellers  and top music artists from all over the world to the small kingdom of Eswatini, released a statement on Friday, saying: “With the spread of Covid-19 increasing in Southern Africa and across the globe, MTN Bushfire, together with government stakeholders, its partners and sponsors, has made the joint decision to postpone the 14th edition of the festival to May 28-30 2021.”

The festival was meant to take place from May 29-31 this year.

The organisers said: “As a socially conscious and conscientious festival, we prioritise the health, safety and security of the Eswatini community, the festival staff and guests. We believe this is the responsible decision to make in recognition of these extraordinary circumstances.”

All festival tickets and camping passes already purchased will be valid for the 2021 festival and refunds will be given to those who cannot make it next year.

Also announced on Friday was the cancellation of this year’s Afrikaburn, which was scheduled to take place from April 27 to May 3.

The organisers said: “They say only love can break your heart so it’s with total heartbreak we are confirming that the event we all love so much is cancelled this year.

“We have had to make this difficult decision out of duty of care to our global community at this time, before the many crews working on projects invest any further funds, resources and love in this year’s events.”

The organisers said they were still investigating reimbursements and revellers would be informed in due course.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival also announced it has postponed this year's event “for the foreseeable future as a public health precautionary measure”.

“This was a difficult yet entirely necessary decision and we’re sure you share in both our disappointment and understanding of why we had to postpone the event at such short notice. There is still too much uncertainty and we are not prepared to jeopardise the health of you, our loyal Festinos, our local and international artists, and our fellow South Africans,” the statement read.