Around a world that continued to be rocked by the coronavirus, events outside of the pandemic reflected the jubilation of independence from the British monarchy, but also tragedies like the fatal shooting of a president, the attempt on the life of a popular British activist, and the sad farewell to a legendary freedom fighter.
Tragedy Strikes A Nation Already Suffering
Highlighting a year in which Haiti has faced multiple misfortunes, the Caribbean country’s president was assassinated in July in a sneak attack on his home at night.
President Jovenel Moïse died in the ambush at his home in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, and First Lady Martine Moïse was wounded. To date, 40 people have been arrested in the attack, including former members of the Colombian military hired to provide security in the nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Most recently, a businessman was detained at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey, after Interpol issued an arrest warrant, according to reports. Meanwhile Ariel Henry has taken over as prime minister, but it is still uncertain when the nation, long embattled, will hold free elections.
The assassination came in a year in which Haiti also faced a catastrophic magnitude-7.2 earthquake in August and the kidnapping of 16 missionaries from the United States and one from Canada in October. As of this writing, all have been released.
A UK BLM Activist Nearly Killed, But No One Knows Why
In May, four men and a 17-year-old boy were arrested in London in an attack against Black Lives Matter UK activist Sasha Johnson, who was shot in the head and critically injured.
The incident took place at a London house party and the five were arrested in the hours after the shooting. People who know Johnson, a 27-year-old mother of two and a college student, said she’d been receiving death threats though police said they knew nothing of this.
In August, British media reported that four men would go on trial in March for conspiracy to murder in the shooting. In addition to being active with BLM, Johnson is a founding member of the Taking The Initiative Party.
The suspects in the case Cameron Deriggs, 18, Devonte Brown, 19, Troy Reid, 20, and Prince Dixon, 25 have all pleaded not guilty to murder conspiracy charges and remain held in custody by British authorities. A trial date has been set for March 7, 2022.
Johnson remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition, according to the BBC, after having undergone two surgeries to release pressure on her brain.
Opening A New Chapter And Booting The Queen
The change came as Barbados, once ruled by the British, formally cutting off ties with Queen Elizabeth II and the monarchy and stamping out the remaining embers of its colonial past. Barbados became independent 55 years ago but maintained ties to Buckingham Palace.
With their new independence, the celebration was not complete without the nation’s most famous daughter. Superstar Rihanna was on hand for the ceremonies and stood with both Mason and Prince Charles as power was handed over, completing the transition.
“Today, debate and discourse have become action,” Mason said. “Today, we set our compass to a new direction.”
RELATED: Prince Charles Says ‘Slavery Was An Atrocity’ As Barbados Becomes Republic
Discovering A New Phase of a Global Plague
Just when we thought that we had turned a corner on the coronavirus pandemic and months after the White House announced a relaxation on mask mandates for the fully vaccinated, a new variant of the virus emerged. The delta variant was proving more deadly, but federal officials did not change direction on the guidelines, despite the objections of some scientists and even former Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
But a discovery in South Africa, moving the variants several letters up the Greek alphabet may be a clue as to why. In early November, according to CNN, scientists in Pretoria found something strange in lab samples they were testing for the disease. A few days later, the same abnormal sample was discovered in Johannesburg. A scientist remarked in the medical journal The Lancet, that this coincided with a jump in positive cases in the country. Before long, officials announced that another variant: omicron had been discovered.
Biden administration response was to ban travel of non-U.S. citizens from eight African countries into the United States, much to the chagrin and protest of South Africa and other nations. But that did not stop omicron itself from traveling to America and the first U.S. case was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early December.
Since then increases in cases in the U.S. have spiked, including in the vaccinated. Reports say Omicron has caused fewer hospitalizations so far, but the vast, vast majority of those who were hospitalized have been the unvaccinated, and long lines waiting for tests persist. Meanwhile, President Biden has lifted the travel ban on the eight African nations, as the nation and world waits to see what the disease will bring in the new year.
Saying Goodbye To A Human Freedom Hero
The figurative end of an era came to South Africa in November with the death of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died Dec. 26 after a lengthy illness at age 90.
Tutu’s name was synonymous along with Nelson and Winnie Mandela and many others in the struggle against apartheid for decades and his efforts earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Throughout the mid-1970s and 1980s, Tutu had been the voice of the South African anti-apartheid movement. He also served as Bishop of Lesotho, as well as the first Black citizen to serve as the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He remained steadfast in his belief in human rights and lent his support to movements all over the world that stood behind them.
“Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness. The ones that are held in high regard are not militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try and make the world a better place.”