By Morak Babajide-Alabi
The year 2019 is rolling to an end. In a few days, we will be celebrating the end of a decade that has been full of notable events. Some of the events will go down in history books as landmarks. It has been a decade when unthinkable developments took place.
Let us take Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, as an example of how crazy this year has been. The 97-year old Duke was discharged from a hospital admission last week. The news of his admission had sent panic across the country and beyond. It was a relief when he walked out of the hospital. His gait and demeanour showed that he was still good for his age. As we all know and confirmed by his son, Prince Charles, that: “When you get to that age things don’t work so well.”
Incidentally, the news of the car crash of Prince Philip was the first major news item of 2019. The news had come as a shock to quite some people. The shock remains the fact that the nonagenarian was behind the wheel of the overturned Land Rover. It had happened on the night of January 17 on the A149 near the Queen’s Sandringham estate. It involved the Duke’s vehicle and a car carrying a baby and two women, one of whom was treated for a fractured wrist. The Duke is a “hardcore man” (whatever that means), but for God’s sake, you would expect him to slow down as he ages.
Another car crash of early 2019 was the former Prime Minister Theresa May. She suffered her most massive defeat in the Parliament. Her draft agreement with the European Union leaders got defeated by a majority of 230 votes. The MPs disagreed with her plans on how the UK should exit the EU.
No year has the gods of Great Britain got busy as 2019. This caused deep anger among them. We appreciate that when gods are angry they are miserable, gloomy, and depressed. They would produce anything and damn the consequences. The UK gods were angry, and they threw caution into the winds. They sent confusion into the camps of the political leaders.
Some of the politicians became stumbling blocks to the desire of the citizens to exit the EU. The gods possessed them and caused them to do their bidding. They transformed the House of Parliament to a Tower of Babel. They spoke the English Language, but they could not quite understand each other. The gods took over and attempted to destroy the essence of the union called Great Britain.
The gods set up May as she became a weak crying limb. The year would go down in her life as a challenging and unpredictable one. Stories from 2019 would fill an enormous part of her memoir when she authors one soon.
While May was performing her thing here, the story across the pond in the United States of America was evolving. A partial shutdown of the government managed its way into history books as the longest. The shutdown left many Federal workers out of pockets during the period.
The political class had failed to arrive at an intervening ground. Trump demanded five billion dollars to fund the building of walls on the southern border. As this was a major campaign issue Trump felt he owed it a duty to deliver. In the end, a deal got brokered to keep the government running. The shutdown came to an end on January 25, 2019.
If there was a topic that united people across all boards in 2019, it is terrorism. When Shamima Begun, one of the brides of the terrorist group, ISIS, decided on returning to the UK, she was shocked at the hostile reaction to her plans. She said she wanted to return to the UK for a “better life for herself and son.” But the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, thought otherwise and revoked her British citizenship. This action irked a section of the society who described it as being extremely tough. They accused Javid of acting up to send out a signal that he is a politician worthy of the highest political office.
To describe what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019, as annihilation won’t be far from the thought of the terrorist. It was a massacre of 50 people who happened to be in the path of a deranged man with warped ideology. The event shocked the world and caused uncontrollable tears to the eyes of many people.
The world was shocked at the terror that got visited on the city. This attack took away the innocence of a country that was typically described as one of the safest in the world. The scale had been mind-boggling and unimaginable. The effect rippled through the city, the country and the world. For the residents, this was trauma. They never imagined terror could visit their “homes”, not to talk of the size it had come.
Another unusual event of 2019 was the follow-up meeting between Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un. It was a well-publicised meeting held at the Hanoi City of Vietnam on February 27/28. Remember the first meeting in June 2018? Trump had described it as an enormous success, although it achieved no concrete resolution of the Korean Peninsula crisis.
The disarmament of the North Koreans nuclear weapon was glossed over. The two leaders were too besotted with each other. They were more concerned with historic handshakes than sorting out the critical issues. To Korean diplomacy observers, the meeting was a disappointment. The unique achievement was the legitimisation of Jong Un as Trump failed to learn from history.
The world shifted its focus on the “giant” of Africa, Nigeria, as it conducted its general elections. It was arduous to draw a line between the political leaders and the infamous 419 practitioners. As the Nigerian scams plots to deprive people of their hard-earned money, so also are various grades of politicians. They mount the podium. They use social media and they knock on front doors. Some “throw” the goodies of democracy at the electorates to garner their votes.
A comparison of all the campaign promises revealed that scams come on soapboxes too. The 419 scammers are cowards who operate behind laptops. But political scammers are confident individuals. They mount campaign rostrums and scam the daylights out of the electorates. A candidate elected on the promises of enhanced development is a scammer if after four years later there is nothing to present. Justice has to complete its full course.
To be concluded next week.
As published in the column Diaspora Matters, Sunday Vanguard, December 29, 2019