Twenty Twenty Won? Thankfully, No!

Reflections on selected issues and events of the Year 2021

What a year it’s been! 2020 did a number on many people but thankfully, 2021 was a better year. Even though the covid-19 pandemic was a predominant influence in the year, many other issues and events also took centre stage. Let’s take a look at some of them.

COVID-19

  • Nigeria got the covid-19 vaccinations in March 2021, and predictably, it has been a challenge getting people to vaccinate. Resistance has been high for many reasons: doubt in the existence of the virus, distrust of the vaccines, and conspiracy theories spun and disseminated by local and national influential personalities. Booster shots are being provided, but we still haven’t achieved a considerable mass of vaccinated citizens.
  • As if we did not have enough on our hands with covid-19, many variants started emerging, with the latest being Omicron, and we are now in the fourth wave. Should we expect more variants? Will we ever go back to the way life used to be? I would still like to know why our infection rates have been low, and yes, I still thank God for that.

Social Media and Pop Culture

  • The Nigerian Government banned Twitter in June 2021 (or was it a restriction on the usage of the app? I am not even sure what the real position is). Trust Nigerians to find a way around it by using Virtual Private Networks (VPN). Has Naija Twitter been the same? Will the ban be lifted in 2022? Only Lai Mohammed can tell.
  • One of the year’s most frequent online buzzwords has been NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), and we haven’t even finished understanding what blockchain and cryptocurrency are all about. My understanding is that NFTs are uniquely identifiable digital files that are stored on a blockchain. You’d have to research to fully understand it though.
  • Mark Zuckerberg decided that it was time to change his company’s name from Facebook Inc. to Meta, seeing as they have decided to focus more on the metaverse (I thought we had enough problems on earth, now they want to add virtual problems?) I have heard of people buying property and getting married on the metaverse. They don’t know it yet, but that thing they are escaping from in the real world will follow them into the metaverse.
  • Social media has helped develop a new career path: influencing, and it is interesting seeing young people make a killing from content creation and influencing. Tiktok and Instagram appear to be the main platforms.

Entertainment

  • Burna Boy finally won the Grammy for the Best Global Music Award for his “Twice as Tall” album. In the same vein, Femi Kuti and his son Made Kuti, were also nominated for the same category in next year’s Grammys. Our music truly deserves a global stage.
  • Nigerian musicians scored several collaborations with international artists which helped push their music to a wider global audience. Notable ones include Wizkid who featured Tems on his “Essence” song and bagged Justin Bieber for a remix. Fireboy also recently got Ed Sheeran to jump on the remix of his song “Peru” which finally got the attention of the Peruvians (they didn’t hear the song before the remix?). And not forgetting Tiwa Savage who got some international acts to feature on her “Water and Garri” album, especially Brandy with the song “Somebody’s Son”.
  • Nollywood’s influence has never been in doubt, and this year, many studios released movies that grossed huge ticket sales. I would love to see more indigenous stories celebrating our various cultural histories. Maybe we will get this now that Netflix and Amazon Prime have formalised partnerships with different film studios to develop unique content. Nigeria to the world!

Sports

  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics finally held. The events proceeded well even though there were no live audiences. The opening ceremony was spectacular, and Paris showed us a bit of what to expect for 2024.

Social issues

  • Some alleged medical malpractice issues popped up this year (often on social media, why don’t people go through formal reporting channels?) Our health sector seriously needs help as medical professionals have either left for greener pastures or are planning to. Inadequate equipment and insufficient specialists are just some of our problems. I constantly pray never to fall ill.
  • Paternity fraud reared its head a few times this year, and there have been some calls for DNA testing of children, even from birth. It is a sensitive issue. Whatever parents decide to do, they should remember that the family is the smallest unit of society. Their actions or inactions will affect the fabric of society.
  • From MMM to MBA Trading to Imagine Global, it seems Nigerians will keep falling for schemes that promise huge returns. I prefer to look at the brighter side; do people have that much money in Nigeria? What needs to happen to get us to invest more locally rather than wait for large returns?

Nigerian Issues

  • The Government, in their wisdom, has concentrated efforts on foreign borrowings for typically long-term capital projects. Honestly? I am confused. Isn’t the debt profile worrying? We are also not making sufficient money from exports, so how will we repay?
  • Many Andrews and Andreas are still checking out and not just to Canada. We are losing a good base of professionals, and I wonder, are things that bad in Nigeria or are those who haven’t gone living in a daydream? Whichever it is, the impact of these exits may not be immediately apparent, but time will tell.
  • As some Nigerians check out, some foreign organisations have now committed to returning some of our cultural artefacts. The British Museum, however, is still doing strong head. I believe they will have to return them eventually or enter into some sort of “management” agreement with Nigeria.
  • Insecurity has increased especially in the North and South-East: insurgency, terrorism, kidnappings, murders, etc. Our problems have escalated beyond Boko Haram and I honestly can’t help feeling as though we don’t get to see the full picture.
  • The EndSARS panel set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the events of the October 20, 2020 shootings finally turned in their report (or was it leaked? I can’t remember). Predictably, the Federal Government disputed a thing or three regarding the report. Something happened that night: one day, the truth will out.
  • The race to the 2023 elections started with the two main parties zoning their party Chairmanship to the North implying that the Presidency has been zoned to the South. 2022 will be an interesting year, and we need to learn for the future. Meanwhile, do you have your voter’s card?

Global Issues

  • The race to space was finally won by Richard Branson: he beat both of his billionaire contenders, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. I keep wondering what exactly they are looking for in space that they haven’t found on earth.
  • Afghanistan’s Taliban finally returned to power after the US army withdrew operations. The Taliban promised to act in more humane ways, but who knows whether they are keeping to that promise? The country is already in a crisis, is another international intervention possible someday?
  • Ethiopia is currently embroiled in a civil war. This is a bit surprising considering that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for brokering peace with Eritrea. Will this affect the rest of Africa? Let’s wait and see.
  • Global warming is a near and present danger, and we all know it. What are nations doing to mitigate this? Many countries have committed to addressing these issues but are they doing anything? Are the most industrialised nations matching words to actions, and are the expectations of Africa reasonable?

2022 is a blank slate. Let us all play our part in painting the future we desire. We deserve better, and that is the best way we can get what we want. Trust me as always: this is the way I see things today.

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‘Gbubemi Atimomo

‘Gbubemi Atimomo

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Writer | HR & Business Consultant | Entrepreneurship Advocate | People Observer & Harmony Seeker