Of the many different ethnic and language groups in the Omo region, it was possible only to collect stories from the Male, Ari, Bena and Tsemay people during a single visit in January 2001 to Jinka, Benetta and Key Afar. The project's work in Jinka was made possible with the help of Mamo Malla of the Regional Cultural Bureau, and was facilitated both in Jinka and Key Afar by Mitachew Belay. Male stories were translated by Itegasu Mitaku. Ari stories were translated by Wuchemayo Desmi. The Bena and Tsemay stories were narrated in Amharic. They were translated into English from Amharic by Mesfin Habte-mariam.
Bena storyteller in Jinka
These stories explore themes of morality and wisdom common to all the regions of Ethiopia. Some are repeated elsewhere (eg The Dog's Tail and The Bull's Calf) but others have great originality. The Baboon and the Monkey echoes the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. Two stories narrate the founding of particular ethnic groups (The Origin of the Bena, and Origins of Tsemay). Some feature unusual characters (eg Lightning and Thunder), while in others there are magical beings and spirits which reflect age-old beliefs.