News Brief

Oromo Ethiopian Runner Claims Discrimination Ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games

Long-distance runner Mohamed Kemal explains to NPR how his Oromo ethnicity has allegedly made him a target of discrimination.

Despite the Oromo people comprising nearly 50 percent of Ethiopia’s population, they have been the target of discrimination in many facets of lifefrom education to employment to land seizures and arrests. Tensions reached a boiling last November when the country’s largest ethnic group took to the streets to protest their mistreatment led by the ruling party Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

It’s against this backdrop of the Oromo protests that NPR reports that 23-year-old Mohamed Kemal, who is Oromo, alleges he has been discriminated against ahead of the 2016 summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Ethiopia also announced its national team will be minus its three-time Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele, which means the country could cede victories in the five and 10K contests to Kenya (both countries usually win medals in these middle-distance races). Some have considered Bekele’s exclusion as another example of the Oromo people’s systematic marginalization.

Kemal tells NPR that before a half marathon in 2014 where he finished 86th—placing him in Ethiopia’s top 100 runners for that year—one of the coaches of his running club suggested fixing the race.

“We have been told to make others too tired, but, at the finishing, to give the chance for the Tigrinya,” the Ethiopian runner explains through an interpreter.

Unable to stomach that his Oromo ethnicity means paying bribes and missing out on international sponsorships, Kemal refused to throw the race. The coach was furious, and threatened to ban Kemal from future contention.

Once the Oromo protests erupted, Kemal found himself among the thousands arrested. After his release from jail, he fled to neighboring Kenya, giving up his promising running career.

Kemal’s exile makes watching this summer’s Olympic games complicated. On one hand, he wishes to root for friends and familiar faces from home. But on the other, doing so, means validating what he suggests is Ethiopia’s corrupt running program.

Have a listen to NPR’s story about Oromo Ethiopian long-distance runner Mohamed Kemal below.


7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Former President of Botswana Ian Khama Condemns Zimbabwean Government

Former Botswana President Ian Khama has condemned Zimbabwe's government and joined solidarity with #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.