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African Festival In Desert: The Tuaregs Of Niger, Africa Meet The American West
Published August 4, 2008

The festival will help raise money for the Center for Nomadic Life and assist the nomads displaced and affected by the current government insecurity in Niger over uranium trade.

A one-of-a-kind benefit event will take place on August 9 on a ranch in the hills above Ojai, California (two hours north of Los Angeles). Hosted by the Ojai-based Nomad Foundation, the Cure Salé is a nomadic festival based on the ancient traditions of the Tuareg tribe from the deserts of Niger, Africa.


Says Nomad Foundation founder and executive director, Leslie Clark, "The festival represents an historic meeting of two herding cultures, the Tuareg of the Saharan Desert and the cowboy of the American West. As someone who lives in both worlds, I'm excited to bring them together in an effort to help introduce and preserve the Tuareg traditions and remind us that we're more alike than we are different."


A resident of Ojai and Agadez, Niger, Clark founded the Nomad Foundation in 2002 after continued travels to West Africa, and Niger in particular, for her painting. Soon she'd become inspired by the cultural traditions of music, craft, leather making and jewelry design and the rituals of Tuareg life from goat-herding to donkey races to receiving the three cups of tea. She decided to dedicate her life to helping Tuaregs adapt to modern life while still retaining their cultural heritage. Her foundation does this through work in water, education, health and through its travel arm, Nomad Adventures.


Adds Clark, "Our goal is to give the Tuareg in America the opportunity to celebrate in their traditional way at a moment when this is not possible in their own beloved country of Niger, due to political problems."


Tuaregs, or the "blue men" as they're known, have been subjects of curiosity in films (Hidalgo Sahara), books (Sheltering Sky), media (New York Times) and exhibitions sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. Clarke helped introduce California to Tuareg life through her Nomad Gallery, where she sells her paintings of nomadic life and crafts made by Tuareg men and women of Niger.   


Ticket Information: Call (805) 646-1706 or visit

$125 - Includes dinner and concert

$45 - Concert only

$1200 - Enjoy day and concert in a private decorated tent. Table for 8 guests.


Schedule of events: 4:00-5:30pm- Welcome


· Get acquainted while enjoying appetizers and no host martini bar.