The Rabaa symbol:

The Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo was the sight of one of Egypt’s bloodiest moments in recent history. Supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi camped at the square after he was deposed by the military after a year in office. After weeks of demonstrations, the military violently dispersed the protests, killing over 800 people according to one estimate. Since then, the Rabaa symbol, showing four fingers on yellow posters, has featured in anti-government protests. Besides alluding to the Rabaa square, ‘Rabaa’ also means ‘four’ in Arabic. Last year, the Egyptian government renamed the square after the country’s assassinated prosecutor general, Hisham Barakat.

Cairo University students shout slogans against the government and flash the 'V' and Rabaa signs after the verdict of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's trial, at the university's campus in Giza
‘We are all Rabaa’
Image: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Undressing to redress:

Women from all echelons of African societies have undressed in the past to draw attention to how they face discrimination and marginalization. Dr. Stella Nyanzi, an academic at Makerere University, undressed earlier this year to protest a dispute with the institute’s director over her contractual agreements. Nyanzi posted the naked photos and a video on Facebook after she was locked out of her office. She was later allowed back into her office.

Ugandan women also stripped in front of government officials last year, accusing them of wanting to take their land. In Uganda, a woman stripping is considered an ill omen, and is seen as a way to invoke curses on your enemy.

Pitching the poo:

Protestors at the University of Cape Town in South Africa threw human excrement at the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, a colonial politician and businessman. Students at the university demanded the removal of the statue, saying the statue represented a symbol of oppression, and hindered the move for change and progress in the country. The statue, which was positioned at the university’s campus since 1934, was finally removed last year.

Cecil Must Go
Cecil Must Go
Image: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam

Clenching fists:

This one is definitely not an Africa-specific symbol of protest. It’s the penultimate iconography for struggle and resistance, and has been used by protestors of all political leanings and for all sorts of causes. Yet, the clenched fist of Nelson Mandela, holding hands with his then-wife Winnie, walking out of prison after 27 years, was marked as a sign of triumph against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 1990 file photo, Nelson Mandela, left, and his wife Winnie, raise clenched fists as they walk hand-in-hand from the Victor Verster prison near Cape Town, South Africa. South Africans are marking the anniversary of the release of the country's first black president, Nelson Mandela, who was freed 25 years ago. Mandela was released on Feb. 11, 1990, after 27 years in prison. (AP Photo/Greg English, File)
Long walk to freedom
Image: AP Photo/Greg English

Hash tag activism:

Internet and technology skeptics have often said that the revolution will not be tweeted. But examples of these are now prevalent in Africa, as smartphone use increases and more people get connected online. To that end, we have witnessed new forms of hash tag activism, with netizens demanding the removal of colonial statues, reduction in university fees, an end to human rights abuses, to oppression and to dictatorship.

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