When Abiy Ahmed became prime minister of Ethiopia three years ago, the Oromo community felt their shackles had finally been broken.
He was one of them – he understood the anger of the country’s largest ethnic group who had led mass demonstrations leading to his predecessor’s resignation.
He knew what their crossed arms – the shackle symbol made famous at the Rio Olympics when marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa raised his arms at the finish line – really meant.
“Many people saw [Abiy] as a new Messiah,” says Merera Gudina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).
For Oromos have felt like second-class citizens in their own country – once referred to even in official circles by a derogatory slur known as the G-word, the equivalent of the N-word, and made to feel ashamed…