Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa Might Want To Take An Extended Vacay After Finishing His Marathon With A Political Statement
Uproxx- As Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line in the Olympic marathon, a new silver medalist, he raised his hands above his head and crossed them at the wrists. To most people, this would look like a form of celebration affected by exhaustion – raised hands that needed to rest against each other because of the effort of finishing a 26.2 mile race. However, the gesture was much more risk-laden and meaningful than that and has ties to dangerous protests happening all across Ethiopia.
Last fall, protests began in Ethiopia that have now blossomed into the widespread “Oromo Protests,” as they are called. One of the first protests resulted in government forces firing into a crowd of innocent protesters, killing and injuring many. Throughout the last few months 400 or more people have been killed and many more taken into government custody for their outspokenness. Crossed hands have become a shorthand for the cause.
Feyisa Lilesa told the 'Sydney Morning Herald',
“If I go back to Ethiopia maybe they will kill me. If I am not killed maybe they will put me in prison. [If ] they [do] not put me in prison they will block me at airport. I have got a decision. Maybe I move to another country.”
Whew, I believe that's what we call bad timing. The moment in which Feyisa Lilesa was at his most physically and, more importantly, mentally drained was also the moment in which he was standing smack dab in the middle of the biggest spotlight that Ethiopia - as a country - has ever been given. Tough to come back from throwing up a nationally frowned upon political gesture on an international stage when your nation doesn't have much else to occupy it's focus. I can't believe I am going to say this, but it might not be such a bad idea to turn his trip to the Olympics into more of an extended Brazilian sabbatical. Normally, I wouldn't recommend staying in a 3rd world country that's main source of refreshment is a poop reservoir, but - as long as he doesn't start wearing a 'Ryan Lochte' name tag - it's got to be safer than what's awaiting him back home. On the other hand, he probably could benefit from seeing Ryan Lochte's hairstylist before he tries he schedules his return flight, because a drastic change in appearance might be the only thing that's capable of keeping out of a casket (if they are even nice enough to perform a proper burial).
Talk about a tough day. One second he's coming within a couple strides of bringing home a Gold for his country after running 26.2 miles and literally the next second he X-communicates himself from said country with one Dez Bryant-esque celebration. That'll swing the old mood faster than a positive pregnancy test at a high school dance. Dude might as well have dropped a HARD 'N' bomb at the BET Awards with how quickly he silenced such a large, volatile group of people. Something tells me they won't be so quiet when they get wind of his impending arrival.