Remembering 2016: A year of International Surprises and ‘World Magic’

By James Osolo.

On 31st December midnight I was in one of my favorite joints watching the fireworks do their magic in the dark sky and then fall back down in the ocean and be swept away. It was at that very moment that it dawned on me that 2016 was no more. What a year that was! Call it the year of surprises or a year of strange occurrences, 2016 will go down as one of those years we won’t forget. All that took place, are worth the memory. You perhaps might need to refresh your memory.

 United Kingdom: The painful Brexit

In Europe the British Citizen went against the advice of economist, politicians, and influencers and decided to vote for BREXIT, the UK voted to leave the EU by a wide and convincing margin of 52% to 48%.These results went against all the tides and the opinion polls which predicted the preference for status quo. As a result, the Prime Minister David Cameron resigned paving way for the selection of the second female British Prime Minister Theresa May. She’s expected to trigger article 50 by the end of March which will begin the official process of the Britain leaving European Union. What a decision, what a surprise!


Italy’s shocker.

Italy too had a referendum in which Voters were asked whether they approve a constitutional law that amends the Italian Constitution to reform the composition and powers of the Parliament of Italy as well as the division of powers between the State, the regions, and administrative entities. Despite the support of the government and senior figures in Italy, the No side won by a wide and convincing margin of 60% to 40%.And as a result, the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned and the minister of foreign affairs Paolo Gentiloni was asked by the president to form the new government.

Columbia: Rejection of peace!

Colombia also had a peace agreement with the FARC rebels which required a referendum. The aim of this referendum was for the citizens to express their approval or rejection of the agreements signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces Colombia (FARC) in Havana. And to the surprise of many the No side won by a slim margin of 50.22% to 49.78%.Despite this outcome president Juan Santos Calderón still won the Nobel peace prize for his attempt to unite the factions. Imagine a vote reject peace!

France: Terror Shocker

Still in Europe France experienced one of their worse terror attacks, in Nice City resulting in the deaths of 86 people and injuring 434. Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. This greatly affected the popularity of President Hollande and as a result of this for the first time in a long time; a sitting president will not be vying for re-election. President Hollande opted not to seek re-election.

But despite all the terror attack, France still staged a very successful European cup tournament (EURO) and they were equally good in the field losing at the final to Portugal

 Brazil: President’s Worst Moments

Brazil also impeached the first ever woman president. On 31 August 2016, the Senate removed President Rousseff from office by a vote of 61–20, finding her guilty of breaking budgetary laws. This was after months of turmoil and accusations in which president Rousseff accused the vice president of staging a coup and trying to take power through illegal means. Immediately after the vote, vice president Temer was sworn in as the 37th president of Brazil

But despite all the political violence, the health and safety concerns surrounding the Zika virus, Brazil still managed to organize one of the best Olympic Games ever at a very modest budget

 Germany: Unwelcome Guests?

In German, Angela Markel policy of open border has caused a lot of friction and chaos. Angela opened borders to refugees that were coming from war torn areas but this did not go down well with the majority of the Germans especially after some terror attacks in the nations. But the world appreciated her work.  In May 2016, Merkel was named the most powerful woman in the world for a record tenth time by Forbes. On 20 November 2016, Merkel announced she would seek re-election to a fourth term and with the turmoil in Europe and the resignation of both British and Italy prime minister more than ever  the whole Europe still need her to lead.

Aleppo: Death of humanity

And on 2016 just as predicted Aleppo did fall and the situation in Syria did not get any better. All the fighting factions have maintained their ground and this has resulted in massive loss of life and destruction of property. According to Spector index, 270,000 people have been killed, 7 million internally displaced, 4.2 million external refugees, 13 million in need of assistance. It is a great hope for many that there will be a solution to this once and for all.

Turkey: The Coup that never was

On 15 July 2016, a coup d’état was attempted in Turkey against state institutions, including, but not limited to the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.The soldiers took over some cities but they were unable to maintain the momentum and the government forces. Through the help of the general public and the loyal soldiers, the government managed to take over the key institution and the coup soldiers were arrested.


Gambia: The painful about turn

On 1st December 2016, something extraordinary happened in Gambia that shocked the world. One of such things people wish to happen but don’t experience. An incumbent dictator accepted defeat in an election and promised not to challenge the results. Though Jammeh whose self-appointed title(s) is His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr.Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awa l Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa later rejected the results it was an unprecedented move. It is again the hope of everyone that the issues will be settled without another stream of blood.

Death: The common denominator.

2016 also witnessed the death of some of the greatest entertainers like Prince, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, iconic boxing champion Muhammad Ali and even the great Fidel Castro, The Cuban leader who never saw eye to eye with 11 USA presidents and still emerged unscratched.

The best for the last? How could we forget November 6th when Donald John Trump was elected the president of the United States of America? No one saw it coming, not even the pollsters. Even Trump himself could not believe he had won. Trump went against every available political scenario and political analyst will take years to find out how exactly the billionaire businessman managed to pull out the surprise of the century.

The Leicester of a surprise!

And to the English football fans who can forget the story of Leicester City Football Club, also known as the Foxes under the leadership of Claudio Ranieri went against all odds and emerged the winners of the coveted English Premier League Title.

Indeed 2016 was a crazy year. This was the year when the impossible became the possible and the possible became the impossible all in 365 days. 2017 will have its own shares of events; there will be elections in Kenya, France, and even Germany. It all remains to be seen how America’s foreign policy will turn out with the ‘Boardroom’ being Trump’s Tweeter account. We all remain to watch as 2017 unfolds.

James Osolo is an International Correspondent for Writers Guild Kenya.


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