Sunday, October 27, 2013

Need suggestions for cameras to be used by remote African kids

      As part of a Myth Project I wanted to get the kids' perspective on life and culture. I thought that best way might be to give the kids digital cameras to record everyday doings from their eye-level.
      I'm looking for suggestions for both cameras (probably would like to get at least 10) and other ideas anyone might have as to the best way to proceed.

These kids in the Ethiopian Konso tribe village of Busso gave me a hard time because I only spoke about 20 words of Konso. "But you are an adult," they kept saying. We all laughed at my ignorance. It's amazing how a laugh in a remote African village sounds exactly the same as a laugh in Sherwood, Oregon, USA.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Myth Project: We All Have 5 Fingers

My favorite African village, the Konso tribe community of Busso, at the edge of Ethiopia's Omo region.
When he understood that I was recording his tribal myths and archetypal dreams, this Hammer elder invited me into his cozy home. He said that I must be very smart to write down all the stories he told.
The Myth Project:
Beginning in 2000, I journeyed to the most remote tribes in Africa to interview the elders, chiefs, shamans, storytellers and witch doctors about their myths and archetypal dreams. I wanted to see what lessons their oral stories offered about the mysteries of life, about how to live on our tiny planet and about Man’s big questions—like what happens after we die, where did the first person come from and is there a god?

I conjectured that these oral stories and collective tribal dreams arise from the deepest wellspring of our (Man’s) being.  After all, DNA tells us that we as modern man, all walked out of Africa. So it makes sense that we took these stories with us stored somewhere deep in our beings.

When I started The Myth Project, my goal was simply to record the stories so that they would not become extinct. Tourists, seeking something, were flooding over the tribes, for ever changing their traditional ways of life. Anthropologists tell me I am the only person who has ever recorded the oral stories of all but one of the 13 tribes I visited.

During a half dozen intense trips I collected massive amounts of information and photographs. Then I set The Myth Project aside to gain perspective. During these last four or five years of Project hibernation, I kept thinking about the answer a Konso tribe (from Ethiopia’s Omo region) elder gave when I asked what advice he would offer to world leaders. In 2001, this elder didn’t have much of a global concept of countries and cultures. He knew about neighboring tribes.

Yet his advice to world leaders truly moved me: “All people in the world are created by God. We’re all the same, we all have five fingers,” he said holding up his hand, “even if we have different beliefs (religions).” 

That simple statement profoundly shifted my focus for The Myth Project. Now the questions that haunt me are more like: What can these myths teach us high-tech modern man? How can we use these stories as a springboard to realize that “We all have five fingers, even if we have different beliefs”?

In order to better understand tribal life, I usually camped in my tiny tent at the edge of the village or was invited to live in an elder's home. This is my humble home for four weeks at the edge of a Suri tribe village in Ethiopia's Omo Region.