Wakarusa 2011 was my first mega-campout festival, ever. The excitement for a new experience was overwhelming, even after a 14-hour ride spent sharing my seat with a large djembe. I had been to festivals before, but not like this — not this weekend-long adventure, a time for becoming closer to the earth and the spirit of my fellow man.

Some of my greatest festival moments happened there that year:

  • I stood front and center for Papadosio (one of my all-time favorites, returning this year).
  • I got caught up in photographing people carefully building rock sculptures by the waterfall.
  • I met a sixth-year Waka-man who had decked out his van in bamboo and solar powered orbs.
  • I met his son, who I later learned played the didgeridoo when I visited the Sunday drum circle that had an energy so strong I had to stop playing and just dance.

When I got home, I picked up my first gig as a music writer, and that was the beginning of my (still fledgling) career. I wrote about my experiences at Wakarusa, and the story was a hit. Since then, I have never looked back. My passion for music and writing has only grown. Even to this day, that is the oldest article on my blog and it’s titled “The Beginning of it All – Wakarusa Music Festival.”

I truly believe that Wakarusa 2011 changed the way I thought about music. It showed me the power music has to bring people together, to transcend all barriers and connect us all. It showed me the transformational energy contained in a large-scale gathering of like-minded people, coming together with the intention of co-creating an amazing experience. It showed me the amount of love and hard work that goes into making an event like that possible.

Wakarusa also showed me that I had a place in it all, as a writer, dancer, hooper, and hand drummer. It showed me that I could be part of that co-creation, both in the moment and beyond it, by sharing my gifts and stories with others. It showed me that I could give people a glimpse into my experiences and those memorable moments, just by writing things down. I realized the power I had to give, whether it be my words or other talents. I didn’t have to just be a spectator, anymore.

Being the special blogger for No Depression would give me the opportunity to return to the magical place that started it all, and be a messenger of that life-changing experience. It would give me a chance to rekindle my passion for music and all that it does, and to rediscover my place within it. To me, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing that my gift has impacted someone, somewhere, and made them smile just a little bigger than before.

An aspiring hoop dancer who dreams of flying, Thandiwe Ogbonna is a recently graduated, sometimes aggravated, partially animated and fully fascinated editor, who timidly ventures into the minefield of writing. You can read her blog, Musical Meditations and Magic Moments, or find it on Facebook.

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Tags: 2011, 2013, Wakarusa


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.