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Abdul-rahman Abdullahi
Elizabeth Laird is a British writer who has traveled extensively and written many books. One of her travels took her to Ethiopia, where she went to teach English, and that’s when she first fell in love with that country. Many years after her first visit, she returned to Ethiopia, this time with the purpose to collect folk stories from traditional storytellers.
She travelled to all the different regions of the country, where she met with the people and the traditional stories were recorded. Many of them were recorded in Amharic, but others were recorded in other regional languages and then translated into Amharic and English. For this, Elizabeth Laird worked with several Amharic/English local translators.
The final collection of 289 tales is available for everyone to read on the Ethiopian Folktales website. The stories are written in English and arranged by region. You can also find the original audio recording in the native language as told by each storyteller.
This is a real treasure, and a way to protect stories that have been orally told from generation to generation from disappearing.
This is also probably just a small percentage of all the traditional stories told by Ethiopians, just a small window to peek into a rich and ancient culture.
As an example of the collection, here is a story from the Woyalita zone that I liked:

Everything Passes Narrated by Yisahak Aldade

“Once upon a time there was a merchant. He used to travel wide and far and one day, as he was walking past a certain area of land he saw a lot of people crowded around, gazing at a spectacle. He was curious to know what was going on so he went to see, and what he saw was an amazing sight.
A man had an ox and another man ploughing his fields. Both the ox and the man were under the yoke, and the man was mercilessly flogging both the man and the ox. The merchant was so sad at the sight, that he went and he began crying.
The man under the yoke looked up at him and said, “What are you doing? You shouldn’t cry for me. Go, go on your way, you shouldn’t stop here.”
But the man cried and said, “This is cruel, how can they make another man pull a yoke like an ox?”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry, everything passes, this misery of mine, this too will pass,” the man said. So the merchant cried a bit and he went on his way.
And as he was a merchant he travelled wide and far and the next year at around the same time, he was passing near that place, and he remembered the strange sight of a man and a bull pulling a yoke.
So he went to people and he said, “I remember last year when I was here, I saw a man plowing with a bull. What happened to that man. Did he die?”
“Oh no, quite on the contrary. God looked down and saw his suffering and saw his tears and God has made him a king. And now he is no longer suffering, in fact he is enjoying life, he is the king of this part of the country.”
The merchant was excited. He couldn’t believe that somebody’s luck could change so drastically and that he could be the king of that region.
“I must see him for myself. I must see him with my own eyes,” the merchant said, and he went to the king’s palace. He went in, and when he saw that the man had really become a king he was rejoicing. And the king saw him and he said, “Hey you over there, what are you up to? Why are you rejoicing?”
And the merchant said, “Well, last year as I was going by this place, I saw a man pulling a yoke with a bull, and I felt very, very sad. And when I came this year, they told me that this man had become a king, and I have come to see with my own eyes whether you are a king.”
And the king said, “Oh, that is very good. Come in and eat and drink.” And he gave him some wealth as well. Then he said, “God bless you my son, for remembering the poor man under the yoke. But you remember what I told you last time, things change, so my life has changed and now I am a king.”
“Well this is unbelievable, it’s incredible, it’s wonderful,” the merchant said.
“Yes, but don’t get too excited, because everything passes, everything changes, and this too will change. I cannot remain a king forever.” So the merchant bade him farewell and he went away.
After some time the merchant came around, and it was in fact the next year, and as he was passing through that country, he decided he should go and visit his friend the king. So he went around, but there was another king in power. So he stopped somebody, and said, “I’m sorry, but I had a friend, the king, and do you know where he is?” And the man said, “Well yes, he passed away, and the king is dead.” So the merchant cried and cried because he had lost his friend, and he said, “Can you show me the grave?” And they took him to the grave, and they found the grave, and on the headstone, in big letters were written the words, “Everything passes and this too will pass.” The merchant was very sad and he went to weep.
And at the fourth year, he was coming around and he said, “I’m sure the grave is still there. That cannot change, that cannot pass.” And he went looking for the grave, but he couldn’t find it. He went up and down looking for the gravestone, but it was nowhere to be seen. So he stopped somebody and he said, “Excuse me, but there was a gravestone over here, which had the words ‘Everything passes, this too will pass’, and it’s no longer here. Can you tell me where it’s gone?” And the man said, “Oh yes, I knew that gravestone. In fact I can’t tell you where it’s gone, but I can tell you what happened to the place. According to the city’s new master plan, that was to be a certain area, so the bulldozer went over there and wrecked everything down and now a fifteen-storey skyscraper stands on exactly the place where the grave was.” And the merchant looked up at the skyscraper and he said, “It’s true, that everything does pass.”

And the moral of this story is to show that though you might have hard times, sorrow and mourning, everything will eventually pass.”