News Brief

The Ethiopian Government Has Asked Olympic Runner In Exile, Feyisa Lilesa, to Return Home

After two years in exile, the Olympic athlete will return home and receive a "hero's welcome."

Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian runner who went into exile in 2016 after bravely protesting the Ethiopian government's brutal treatment of its Oromo population at the Rio Olympics, has been invited to return home.

After living in self-imposed exile in the United States for two years the marathoner—who demonstrated by crossing his fists as he reached the finish line at the Olympic games, claiming the silver medal—has been extended an offer to return to his homeland and compete for his country once again by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and the country's Olympic committee. According to VOA News, the runner will return home in the coming weeks with his wife and children.

"Athlete Feyisa Lilesa has scored great results at the Rio Olympics and other athletics competitions enabling Ethiopia's flag to be hoisted to great heights," read a joint letter from the two athletics organizations.

"We want Lilesa to return to his home country to resume his athletics competition and upon his return we are prepared to give him a hero's welcome."


READ: Exclusive Interview With Ethiopian Marathon Runner in Exile, Feyisa Lilesa

Lilesa's gesture brought international attention to the plight of the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia, who rebelled against the government in 2015. The protests, which left hundreds of people dead, led to the resignation of former leader Hailemariam Desalegn.

"I just want to share my gratitude. I would like to thank our citizens who sacrificed their lives …all of the young people and the elders who participated in the struggle," Lilesa told VOA.

Lilesa's acceptance back into the country is just one of the many symbolic gestures made under the leadership of prime minister Abiy Ahmed's—who is also Oromo—that signify a new tide in the East African nation. Last month, Ahmed signed a peace deal with Eritrean president Isaias Afewerki, putting an end to their 20 year war.

OkayAfrica spoke with Lilesa in 2016 following his gesture at the Olympic games, revisit our interview with the courageous athlete here.

Popular
Photo by Giles Clarke/UNOCHA via Getty Images

Cameroon Holds Vigil to Remember Children Killed in School Attack

Residents in Kumba paid their respects to the seven lives lost, and those injured during the attack over the weekend.

In the latest tragedy to come from Cameroon's historically violent clash between Anglo and Francophone citizens, seven children were murdered after attackers stormed a school with guns and machetes over the weekend.

In what has been deemed as the "darkest and saddest day," by Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba, armed attackers stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, targeting students aged 9 to 12. The tragic event saw dozens of children injured, some critically.

The attack has shocked the nation, with both local and international agencies condemning the horrible offense. On Monday, Cameroonian President Paul Biya denounced the "horrific murder" of the school children, and alluded to the "appropriate measures" being taken in order to bring justice to the families of the victims. Prime Minister Dion Ngute Joseph shared his condolences via a tweet saying, "I bow before the memory of these innocent kids."

The Cameroonian presidency and governing body have blamed Anglophone 'separatists' for the attack, though the group claims no part in the attack.

Human rights groups, however, have blamed both opposing parties, as the conflict has led to the death of over 3,000 deaths and resulted in more than 700,000 Cameroonians fleeing their homes and the country.

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: Meet Velemseni, Eswatini’s Queen of Soul

Soul artist Velemseni's music reflects Eswatini culture and aesthetics. "The Kingdom of Eswatini is a magical and mysterious place, and my music aims to interpret and document that mystique, drawing from genres like Swazi gospel, soul, African soul, cinematic and traditional music," says the artist.