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At the end of April on a cold, dark night in the remote Tankwa desert of the Karoo, South Africa a massive wooden Cannabis leaf was set alight.

At the end of April on a cold, dark night in the remote Tankwa desert of the Karoo, South Africa a massive wooden Cannabis leaf was set alight. This happened at an event called Afrikaburn, a regional version of the famous Burning Man event which takes place in the USA.

Nearly 10 000 participants come together from all around the world to create a temporary self-sustaining camping community that exists for only one week of the year. This ephemeral ‘city’ consists of theme camps, people dressed up in costumes and performance art as well as huge, interactive temporary art installations and structures which get burnt during the week, of which this leaf was one.

To showcase their love and appreciation for the miracle plant that is Cannabis, the Garden of Weeden camp, built and assembled a cannabis leaf art piece as their gift to the AfrikaBurn event.

Conceptualised and coordinated by Johannesburg-based photographer, visionary, and regular AfrikaBurn attendee, Greg Mulford, along with his Garden of Weeden team, this nearly 13-metre-high tribute to the Cannabis plant was illuminated in the desert night with green flood lights and LEDs. It stood for only four days before it was set alight, surrounded by thousands of enthralled AfrikaBurn festival goers.

The burning of the leaf was the ‘grand finale’ of three months of tireless work, by a committed team of 21 people in Johannesburg, who prepared, cut and drilled together a mass of scraps of wood donated to the project,” said Cliff Giesenow, co-founder of the Cannabis Trade Association of Africa (CTAA), and a team member the Garden of Weeden camp.

The Garden of Weeden theme camp offered desert festival attendees a comfortable space to consume weed in a relaxed, shaded lounge oasis which included a ‘Gifting Tree’ where lighters and rolling papers were made freely available as part of the AfrikaBurn culture and principle of ‘gifting’.
“The monumental piece of art served to highlight that the Cannabis plant should be made available to all across the planet and that a plant should not be criminalized,” said Giesenow, who is an entrepreneur in the local Cannabis industry.

As part of the art project, 1000 cannabis joints were gifted to the participating crowd who encircled the giant leaf, prior to the burning on the night of April 28, 2023. “An attached note asked the crowd to ‘Light up when we light up’, in communal celebration and honour of the miracle plant, which can be used to provide food, medicine, housing, fuel, clothing and a host of other things,” explained Giesenow. “We were thrilled with the outcome. Our message came across clearly, and the universality and love of the most widely consumed and broadly used plant was evident.”

This was visually supported by another monumental art piece that was placed close by that graced the desert landscape – that of a giant heart.
Mulford said that while conceptualising and executing the project was a huge effort and amount of work, it was a Labour of Love. “We had an amazing team supporting the realisation of the vision in celebration and honouring this plant and her gift to humanity.” “It was an honour and privilege to help and support this team and to be part of Garden of Weeden,” said Giesenow. “I look forward to working together with Mulford and the crew back in the desert next year in Tankwa spreading the love of Cannabis again.”