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President Nichols’ Address to Moussem de Tan Tan

In early September, thousands gathered on the sands of the Western Sahara at Moussem de Tan Tan for a celebration of Moroccan tribal culture, art and tradition. The Festival, cited by UNESCO as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage,” has become a worldwide symbol for preserving national heritage and customs. For the Explorers Club, the Moussem de Tan Tan was historic.

Celebrating world exploration, President Alan Nichols was invited by His Royal Highness King Mohammad VI and by the King’s Special Ambassador to UNESCO as honored guests to attend Tan Tan with an Explorers Club delegation.

The delegation, headed by member Marcelo Mendez, was joined on the parade field at Tan Tan by senior Moroccan Ministers; representatives of the Royal family; invited guests from throughout the world; more than 35 Sahara tribes; hundreds of school children; Berbers on horseback and camels; and thousands of local residents.

President Nichols was formally introduced and gave a stirring address that was covered by radio, television and print media attending Tan Tan from across the world.

While in Morocco, The Explorers Club met with government officials pledging the Club’s support for world exploration and insuring its full support for the upcoming Moroccan Reed Boat project that will bring the Reed Boat across the Atlantic next year to New York.

Alan Nichols, President of The Explorers Club, addressing the worldwide audience at Tan Tan:

“As President of the Explorers Club, I am deeply honored to be at Tan Tan, representing explorers of the world.

We are indebted to His Royal Majesty King Mohammed VI, for extending this most prestigious invitation.

We also wish to sincerely thank—
Kitin Munoz, Moroccan Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO
Fadel Benyaich, Royal Advisor to the King
and the Explorers Club honorary delegation chairman, Marcelo Mendez.

I am Alan Nichols.
I am an explorer.
Each of you are explorers.
As fellow human beings exploration is in our DNA.
Whether we are Berbers, Moroccans, Saharans, Americans, French, Arabs, we are all explorers together. 

There is no foreign land; it is only the traveler that is foreign.
I’ve had dreams for many years to explore Morocco and especially the Sahara as I wrote in the first stanza of my poem ‘Sahara Dream’:

              I sit on a mountain today
              Gazing at San Francisco’s Bay
              Dreaming of a land 10,000 miles away
              It’s called Sahara, by the way…

.... I know, the emptier the landscape, the richer the experience.

Video Courtesy of BronxNet

At Tan Tan, The Explorers Club is making history.

The Festival goes back into pre-recorded history. Many others have been honored here, but never has The Explorers Club been so honored.

His Royal Majesty King Mohammed VI has proven that the world is changing from Western centered exploration to World centered.

We at The Explorers Club recognize that exploration in our times is not limited to expeditions from the West and we share His Royal Majesty’s goals and aspirations.

We know about western exploration of Africa for the last hundreds of years, while Morocco knows about Exploration of Africa for thousands of years—dating at least back to the time of the Phoenicians.

We know all about Marco Polo, but a far more traveled explorer was the Moroccan explorer Ibn Batutta.  He went to five times as many countries and traveled thousands more miles during those same years.

And little known but enormously significant was that Estevencio, a Moroccan, was the first African to visit North America, now the United States.

And today, thousands of years later, and thanks to Tan Tan, we can bring our cultures and our love of exploration to new levels of understanding and cooperation.

Last March His Royal Highness, King Mohamed VI ushered in a new era for world exploration.

He sent a formal delegation, headed by his special adviser Fadel Benyaich and the Moroccan Ambassador to United States Rachad Bouhlal to meet with the Explorers Club to develop plans and programs that would ensure world cooperation for global exploration, especially in Morocco, Africa, and the Middle East.

An invitation to Tan Tan as honored guests followed, giving the Explorers Club the chance to experience first-hand the enormous wealth of opportunity for exploration that existed by forging close alliances with the Moroccan government and the tribes of the Sahara.

We from The Explorers Club honor the King, each of you, and the 35 tribes here as leaders in exploration and we profoundly thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn, first-hand, of this diverse culture.

As part of our alliances with Morocco, we have pledged our full support to the Moroccan reed boat project and we excitedly await seeing the Moroccan and Explorers Club flags fly side-by-side as the boat sails to New York.

We cannot wait to enthusiastically welcome the boat to New York, for as Mohammed reminds us, A guest is a gift from Allah.”

Published by : Kevin Murphy

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste