2016 really was that year, wasn’t it?
It was the year that lingered at the back of our 2015 calendars and diaries, looking altogether promising and decent, and, dare I say, more and more tantalising as the now bygone year drew to a close.
Those expectant, empty white pages beamed at us for twelve months, beckoning us to cross the threshold of the new year and “slip into something more comfortable” – say, how about the 1st of January 2016?
We went willingly, but also without a choice, towards that bright beacon of human achievement – I mean, surely “in the year 2016” was only the stuff of obligatory science fiction exposition, just yesterday?
Then suddenly, and all too soon, there we were. 2016 was upon us.
It would take me hours to recount verbally everything that’s occurred, never mind the days that would be needed to write all of it down. (Robots and androids may be able to withstand the demands of such a task, but cyborgs still have human parts, and those require downtime, I’m afraid.)
And, so, before we bid 2016 a not-so-fond “good riddance”, here is a brief summary of the year’s events:
Globally, 2016 has been one of the most disruptive and turbulent years in recent history. After an unexpected referendum result, the UK opted out of the EU. Agent Orange was elected president of the USA, and North Korea decided it was a good time to conduct its fifth (and reportedly biggest) nuclear test. I’m still torn as to which was the bigger bombshell dropped this year.
The world lost several beloved pop culture icons, numerous horrific terrorist attacks plagued countries across the globe, and thousands of innocent people were killed in the ongoing Syrian civil war – most recently in the bloody Battle of Aleppo. The violence and the horror of 2016 has left the planet reeling, and many wondering if the world will ever know peace…
But in the wake of some of the worst human tragedy of recent years, our species also made some positive progress in 2016.
In a landmark sentencing, the Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba became the first person to be convicted of sexual violence by the International Criminal Court. Various probes and spacecrafts continued exploring our galaxy, and Solar Impulse 2 became the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the earth, perhaps paving the way for future renewable energy travel. This advance will be important in ensuring that the goals of the Paris climate conference (COP21) are achieved, especially since global carbon dioxide emissions for 2016 are reportedly the highest of any year on record.
Back at home, we South Africans had a few good reasons to celebrate this year. Athletes like Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya shone at the Rio Olympics, and the transcendent SA Paralympic team brought home even more gold. Additionally, our young democracy was resolute in the face of wayward president, Jacob Zuma, who failed to escape 783 charges of corruption.
However, anger and frustration continue to simmer among the hundreds of South African students who marched for free quality tertiary education this year. Following an 8% fee increase, many young academics face an uncertain 2017.
And so, as we plunge headfirst into the New Year, this is my humble cyborg wish:
May we go bravely where no human or cyborg has gone before, as we take another bold step forwards and wade deeper into the churning river of time. May the new year be kinder than the last, and may we always strive to be a better people than we were yesterday.
And by order of Queen Janelle Monáe, this New Year’s Eve, “just shock it, shake it baby.”
The featured image at the top of the post is New Year by Kubo Isako.