Tuesday August 30th 2016
By Zecharias Zelalem
Athlete Feyisa Lilesa’s brave transmission of the Oromo protests movement symbol to a global audience watching the Rio Olympics on August 21 delivered a stinging jab into the face of the century old image of a “proper and well behaved” Oromo.
The entire world’s cameras, and a plethora journalists hounded the young athlete, mystified by what some called the “X symbol” Feyisa made by repeatedly crossing his arms just meters from the finish line in Rio.
They were treated to the truth. The cold painful truth that oppressive imperial Ethiopia and her hardcore right-wing adherents would have wanted to see shoved under the royal rug decades ago: THE OROMO PEOPLE EXIST. The Oromo people, with their culture, language and customs are alive and kicking. And above all, they are here to stay.
“Children should be seen and not heard!” This belief is the backbone of your traditional parenting guide in some conservative cultures such as Ethiopia. In order to maintain a sense of order in the household, the rowdy and playful bunch were to politely smile, speak only when greeted and behave while guests are around to promote the stereotypical image of a healthy, perfect family breeding absolutely flawless angels.
In many ways, for far too long, the place of the Oromo in the Ethiopian family almost paralleled that of countless children raised by strict parents.
The Oromo have always been a major part of the Ethiopia that was formed in the imperial era of conquest. The largest ethnic group in the country can find its descendants living all across the country, and countless more are Oromo through their lineage. The Afaan Oromo language is said to be the fourth most spoken language on the entire African continent, and something like half of Ethiopia’s 90 million people are native speakers of the language.
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