These 10 events sent shock waves around the world, leaving confusion, disarray and relief in their wake. Presented in no particular order.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria
This year, the world got at least four doses of major hurricanes – Category 3 or greater – leading to a worldwide property damage of about 200 billion dollars. Harvey and Irma alone, left a total of 103 people dead in the U.S., making 2017 the 17th deadliest hurricane season since 1900. This season has indeed been exceptionally intense. Harvey rolled through Houston, Texas and the Gulf Coast. Irma rampaged over the Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and other parts of the Caribbean before sweeping through Florida. Maria ravaged Dominica wiping out the power infrastructure in Puerto Rico and kick-starting the political drama.
Grenfell tower fire
On the 14th of June 2017, a devastating fire ripped through the Grenfell tower block, a housing unit in West London and left at least 71 people dead plus hundreds homeless. Investigations and recovery operations took months and an inquest, authorised by Prime Minister, Theresa May, immediately after the blaze, is still ongoing. The blame game is also still ongoing.
The strongman of Gambia falls
After 22 years in power, the reign of former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh came to an ignoble end. After taking power in a military coup in 1994, Jammeh perpetuated himself as a ‘’democratic’’ president before losing the 2016 presidential elections to Adama Barrow. He accepted defeat, but then backtracked by announcing he would contest the result. Facing threat of military intervention from regional states, Jammeh departed on 21 January, becoming the first president to peacefully hand over power in The Gambia since independence from Britain in 1965.
Manchester Arena bombing
On May 22, 2017, a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb was detonated as people were leaving Manchester Arena following a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande. Twenty-three people were killed, including the attacker, and over 500 were injured. After initial suspicions of a terrorist network, police later said they believed the bomber, Salman Ramadan Abedi, had largely acted alone but that others had been aware of his plans. The bombing was ruled an Islamist terror attack.
Theresa May loses major gamble
Seeking to legitimise her mandate as she drives full throttle into Brexit negotiations with the European Union, British Prime Minister, Theresa May led her party to a general election. The shock result was one that very few saw coming. The election ended with the ruling Conservative Party suffering a major setback, losing its majority. Serious questions are now being raised about the future Prime Minister May as the Conservative party gets by with a so-called “hung” parliament.
Sierra Leone mudslide
On August 14, after three days of torrential rain, a mudslide killed 499 people in the mountain town of Regent on the outskirts of Sierra Leone‘s capital Freetown, sweeping away homes and leaving residents desperate for news of missing family members. Mudslide and rain overwhelmed Freetown’s drainage system, creating waterways that churned down steep streets across the capital. Over 200 more people are feared dead with 600 people still missing.
Las Vegas shooting
On the night of October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured. 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after Paddock fired his last shot into the crowd of 22,000, he was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The incident is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.
Mugabe finally takes a bow
93-year-old Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe was forced to resign in November as a fall out of the most peaceful and diplomatic of military interventions. The decision was sparked by Mugabe’s decision to fire his longtime deputy, leading to fears that he was positioning his unpopular wife, Grace, to succeed him. After leading Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, Mugabe submitted his resignation hours after parliament started an impeachment process against the world’s erstwhile oldest living president.
The desire for self-rule amongst the people of Catalonia, Spain took a dramatic turn this year when Spain’s constitutional court declared illegal, a referendum decided by Catalans to decide if they would continue to stay on as Spanish citizens or be independent. Police officers were authorised to stop the referendum, and the event soon got violent with reports of seized ballot papers and boxes. Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy fired the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet, dissolved the Parliament of Catalonia and scheduling fresh Catalan elections.
Trade slave in Libya
The world was forced to deal with the other, often underreported side of the European migrant crisis when CNN revealed in an undercover investigation, footage of smugglers auctioning for $400, a dozen men outside the Libyan capital city Tripoli. The video shocked the world and refocused international attention on the exploitation of migrants and refugees in the North African country as they try to make passage into Europe by sea, often through illegal means. Several countries have agreed on a plan to evacuate thousands of migrants stuck in Libyan detention camps.
The writer tweets from @drwill20
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.