Whether mourning the death of a musical giant, teasing presidents or launching protest movements, Africans took to social media in greater numbers than ever before in 2016. Here’s a look back at some of the most popular stories and hashtags.
BBC: Africa’s top hashtags of 2016: #OromoProtests and #AmharaProtests December 28, 2016Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Africa’s top hashtags of 2016
Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, were using these hashtags for months to bring attention to their protests over economic and political marginalisation.
They accused the government of killing hundreds of demonstrators and arresting thousands in brutal crackdowns.
But in August, when Ethiopia’s Olympic marathon silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa, himself an Oromo, crossed his hands above his head in a gesture of protest as he crossed the finish line in Rio, the world’s media sat up and took notice.
“The Ethiopian government is killing my people so I stand with all protests anywhere as Oromo is my tribe. My relatives are in prison and if they talk about democratic rights they are killed,” he said.
One Ethiopian activist on Twitter compared Lilesa’s actions to the famous black power salute made by two American athletes at the 1974 Olympics, when they staged a silent protest against racial discrimination:
Lilesa was named in Foreign Policy Magazine’s top 100 global thinkers for 2016, which praised him for “breaking the rules of the games” by staging a protest at the Olympics.
He is now living in exile in the US, having said he feared he would be killed or imprisoned if he returned home.
But protests have continued in his home country, with more than 24,000 people arrested since the government introduced a state of emergency in October – half of whom remain in custody.