#YNaija2016Review: Brexit, #AmericaDecides, Zika virus… These 10 major events shook the world in 2016

by Wilfred Okiche

These events sent shock waves around the world and left confusion in their wake. In no particular order.


The United Kingdom shocked the world in June when its citizens voted in a referendum to withdraw from the European Union. 52% of British citizens voted in favour of Brexit, a portmanteau of “British exit.” The UK government led by Theresa May intends to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, the formal procedure for withdrawing, by the end of March 2017. This, within the treaty terms, would put the UK on a course to leave the EU by March 2019.



Mohammed Ali dies at 74

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, one of the world’s greatest sporting figures, and most famous persons ever passed away in June at the age of 74.The former world heavyweight champion died at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona. He had been suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease which he had battled for many years.


America Decides

Where America goes, the rest of the world goes and so it came as no surprise that the rest of the world stayed glued to the battle royal between the supremely qualified politician and stateswoman, Hillary Clinton and the desperately unqualified businessman and troublemaker, Donald Trump. Against all odds and verdicts of pollsters and pundits, Donald Trump soared to a win after scoring majority of the electoral college votes and key wins in battleground states.

Trump is Time magazine's person of the year 2016

Zika virus

Coming on the heels of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease was another morbid haemorrhagic fever named Zika virus. Transmitted by the Aedes virus, the outbreak, which in its prime neared pandemic levels, was treated as a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Worst hit were countries in the Americas that had to deal with thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.


zika virus effectThe Rio Summer Olympics

Few events unite the world like the once-in-four-years sporting extravaganza that is the Olympic Games. For 2016, the whole world moved to Rio where more than 11,000 athletes from 205 countries competed for 306 sets of medals in 28 Olympic sports. The games survived controversies like the instability of the country’s federal government; health and safety concerns surrounding the Zika virus and a doping scandal involving Russia

Battle for Aleppo, Syria

A photograph of a dazed and bloodied Syrian boy rescued from a destroyed building in Aleppo after an air strike caused outrage around the world and drew renewed attention for calls for a permanent end to the Syria crises. Images of the boy, identified as five-year-old , sitting in an ambulance were released by activists and have since been shared widely on social media. This followed Russian air strikes that killed at least three people and injured 12 others.

omran daqneesh

Military coup foiled in Turkey

The government of The Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July quelled threats from an attempted military coup. The coup was thwarted in part by the masses of people who swarmed into the streets in response to an appeal by Erdogan, issued over a TV anchor’s iPhone, to come to the help of the embattled government. This led to widespread reports of bloody revenge killings against rebel soldiers.

Gambia President steps down

Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, who once vowed to rule the tiny West African nation for “a billion years”, shocked the world when he accepted his surprise election defeat in December, 22 years after seizing power in a coup. In an address broadcast by Gambian state-owned radio, Jammeh said he would not contest the poll results that announced opposition candidate Adama Barrow as president elect, bring hopes for democracy to the country.


Brazil plane crash

A LaMia airline flight carrying Brazilian football team, Chapecoense to the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin crashed shortly before landing, having been flying for 20 minutes longer than its four-hour fuel capacity. The plane ran out of fuel and crashed after the crew failed to refuel the jet because of time spent searching for a player’s lost video game. 75 out of the 81 people on board were killed. Three players, a journalist and two crew members survived.

Orlando nightclub shooting

In the deadliest terrorist attack on United States soil since 9/11/2001, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. Mateen was shot and killed by Orlando Police Department (OPD) officers after a three-hour standoff. It was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history.


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