The Story Project
The Story Project was set up in 1996 by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, the British Council under the directorship of Michael Sargent, and the British writer Elizabeth Laird. Over four years, Elizabeth Laird collected more than three hundred stories told to her by story tellers in the many different regions of Ethiopia, working closely in collaboration with the Regional Educational and Cultural Bureaux.
A large selection of the stories were rewritten by Elizabeth Laird in simplified English with the aim of producing readers for Ethiopian schools, so that children could increase their fluency in the reading of English while enjoying their own cultural heritage.
Eight readers were produced, but it was not possible to print books for every region. However, it became clear that the collection of stories was an important cultural resource, which was in danger of being lost. Thanks to a generous grant from the Christensen Foundation, the website www.ethiopianfolktales.com was created. This contains all the original stories in the words of the translators. It is available to be read in both English and Amharic. The voices of the storytellers, in many different languages, can also be listened to.
This website has also been funded by the Christensen Foundation. It publishes for the first time all eighty-eight rewritten stories, in the hope that they will inspire Ethiopian children with a love and respect for their wonderful oral heritage, while helping them with their English studies.
The Lure of the Honey Bird, a personal account by Elizabeth Laird of her travels in Ethiopia to collect the stories has been published by Polygon.
A note on copyright:
These stories are the property of the Ethiopian people, and no one has the right to copyright them. They can be retold by anyone in their own words in any way, in print, on air or online. However, these versions of the stories are the copyright of Elizabeth Laird and her authorship must be acknowledged. They can be downloaded and distributed freely by anyone for educational purposes, but cannot be reprinted for commercial sale or reproduced on another website without the author's permission, or attributed to anyone else.
The artwork was created by Yosef Kebede and Eric Robson. Their work cannot be copied and used without acknowledgement and without the artists' permission outside the purpose of this website.
The exercises are the copyright of Elizabeth Laird, Jacek Opienski and Ann Rossiter.