Africa’s Symbols of Protest

September 6, 2016

“When protests take over cities or countries, the slogans and symbols create a visual narrative that serves as a reminder for the demands of protesters”.


Quartz News, recently complied some of the powerful signs used across Africa: 



Crossing Arms

  • Ethiopians have been using this gesture to protest the government’s crackdown on Oromo and Amhara demonstrations. Marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa, crossed his arms in support as he ran across the finish line to receive a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

  • The gesture has also been used in the current protests against the racist practices and policies at Pretoria Girls High in South Africa.

Shaving Hair

  • Ethiopian citizens have been shaving their heads in an act of solidarity with political prisoners who, called for a national morning for those that have been killed by the government in the Oromo and Amhara protests. (Following the death of a loved one, it is an Ethiopian cultural norm to shave one’s head).

The Rabaa Symbol

  • Protesting the deposition of former president Mohamed Morsi, supporters camped at the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, Egypt. In response to weeks of demonstrations, the military took action. Although promising a “safe exit”, they fired 12 hours’ worth of live ammunition at the crowds, killing over 800 of the civilians.  The Rabaa symbol (four fingers) has been a symbol in prominent ant-government protests ever since.


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