Introduction / History The Northern Mao of Ethiopia primarily reside in rural villages in western Ethiopia, around Bambassi town and in the Didessa River Valley. Most Northern Mao are farmers. The Northern Mao around Bambassi and in the Didessa River Valley share a common culture and language. However, the Northern Mao around Bambassi are predominantly Muslim, while those in the Didessa River Valley are predominantly Christian. Though Northern and Southern Mao recognize one another as having a shared cultural identity, they realize that their languages are completely different. When Northern Mao and Southern Mao people meet, they usually use another language, like Oromo, to communicate.
A majority of Northern Mao people speak only their mother tongue and cannot adequately use Scripture in a second language. Their very low literacy rate suggests that a literacy program in the area may be difficult. It would be beneficial to also present Scripture in Northern Mao on audiocassettes. Though their motivation to read may be quite low, the Northern Mao Christians appear to have a great desire for Scripture in their mother tongue. During an interview, when asked what kinds of materials they would like to see translated into Northern Mao, they replied, "the Bible."