Friday, October 3, 2014

Traditional Stories Project

Tesfahun and I have started a book project in the South Region. The plan is to make one book per year focusing on a different ethnic group each time and then a few years down the road, we will take the best stories from each group and put them into a larger book. We collect the stories in the mother tongue and then translate them into English. The books will be used as a teaching resource and will contain comprehension exercises for students. They will also have an audio CD for listening comprehension, and we are going to film the story collection process for a documentary film that will accompany the "Best Stories" book.

Last week, over the Meskel holiday, Tesfahun and I traveled to Wolaita Sodo to meet with the Tourism Bureau and collect a few initial stories. Wolaita is a beautiful region and the people were incredible kind and generous with their time.

The bus rest stops are a bit different here in Ethiopia, not the flushing toilets, by donation coffee shop style that exist across North America.

Photo: Rest Area

Photo: Wolaita accommodation.

Photo: Story collection process

Photo: Traditional house
Photo: Wolaita cultural clothing
Photo: Ato Elias, Deputy Bureau Head at the Wolaita Tourism Bureau

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


As mentioned in the above post, my good friend Tesfahun and I are working on a book project in the Wolaita zone and went there on the weekend to collect traditional stories from the Wolaita people. It just so happened that we were in the area during the Meskel celebration. We decided to head down to Arba Minch, where Tesfahun's sister (Tarik), brother-in-law (Alem) and their son (Dougie) live, for a visit and to take part in the festivities. It did not disappoint. There is a short video clip of the Meskel celebration below this blog post.

The Meskel celebration marks the  finding of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. The cross was found by Queen Helena in the fourth century. She had a revelation in a dream that told her to make a large bonfire and cover it in frankincense and the smoke from the fire would lead her to where the cross was buried. As the fire was lit, the smoke from the fire rose high into the air and then returned to the ground indicating where the cross could be located.

Photo: Tarifa, Dougie, Alem, and Tesfahun.

Photo: Meskel prayers

Photo: The lighting of the bonfire.

Meskel Celebration - Arba Minch, Ethiopia 2014