Crossed Arms Over Head: a symbol of solidarity that fuels Oromo freedom
By Jitu Dh
(Advocacy4Oromia, 22 August 2016) The one main thing I’ve taken from Feyisa Lelisa’s act of defiance is that at times of adversity, there are always going to be people who will arouse hope, there are always going to be people who enable us to envision a world where we can live freely without fear of prosecution, torture, rape, being silenced, institutionalised discrimination, murder and so on. His symbol of solidarity with his people adds fuel to our pre-existing need and want for, in simpler terms, freedom.
I mean, I understand that this doesn’t mean freedom is here because the struggle continues. There are more protests, and undeniably more crackdowns. But it does mean that not only is there a wider audience becoming aware of the plight of the diaspora but also lets the Oromo people know that there are people like Feyisa who use their platforms as means to project the demands and the cries of the Oromo.
He showed to the world, to the Ethiopian government that quickly attempted to silence him by shutting down the live program, and to the Oromo people who are facing the consequences of an oppressive system that the Oromo struggle is not one that will be forgotten. He showed that the Oromo cries are not unheard and that there will always be people there to project their demands when there are forces trying to silence them.
If we keep using whatever platform we have, whether be it on social media or connections with government officials, schools, television networks, popular media and/or news outlets, and raise more and more awareness to create a national uproar and outcry, a world of self-governance and a future where we can freely live on our land, speak our tongue and wave our flag with pride without fear and prosecution won’t be far away.
This is why we cannot let Feyisa become a one off, we can’t let him blow over. He has become relevant, a martyr to the plight of the diaspora. He can create a chain of reactions where we can all use our platforms, on and offline to ensure a just and prosperous future.