The year of unexpected possibilities. That is how most people described the year 2020. The year came with its own rules as we had no option than to live by them. 2020 changed our perspective on life. We had to adopt a new way of life. It was knotty to plan for tomorrow because it wasn’t fated.
Spending December in Africa was the best. It was even more fun in a country like Ghana that organized its Year of Return for the first time in 2019. An initiative of the government of Ghana along with the U.S based Adinkra Group. The purpose was to encourage Africans in the diaspora to come to Africa to settle and invest in the country.
It was a year to commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans touched down in Jamestown, Virginia in the United States.
Initially, the Ghana Tourism Authority predicted the Year of Return would bring approximately 500,000 visitors. By the end of September 2019, Ghana had about 237,000 visitors. The foreigners had exceeded 900,000 by the end of the year. The Minister of Tourism Barbara Oteng Gyasi said the Year of Return helped the country gain about $1.9 billion in the economy.
Many entered the new year with hope. Some had wrapped up with their usual list of new year resolutions. Little did we know 2020 had its agenda
As the excitement escalated in Ghana, China was reporting a new outbreak of disease. The World Health Organization on 4th January 2020 reported on their social media that there was a pneumonia case with no death in Hubei province.
As of January 13th, 2020, a new case of coronavirus popularly called COVID19 was in Thailand. The first case outside china. Many said a 55-year-old person might have been the first to contract the virus on November 17, 2019. Investigations also suggested the outbreak was from exposure at a seafood market in Wuhan.
In the same month, many woke up to devastating news on 26th January. NBA legend Kobe Bryant together with his 13-year-old daughter and seven passengers was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. They were on their way to a game at Bryant’s sporting facility Mamba Academy with his private helicopter
As the coronavirus continued to increase in certain countries, Italy became the first to implement a nationwide lock down.
Egypt recorded its first case being the first in Africa on 14 February 2020. A period Ghana was busy preparing for its 63rd independence celebration. Some were planning for their weddings with different hashtags on social media. At the end of February, the first case in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria
Australia was also battling with fire outbreaks that started later part of 2019 and increased in the new year. On 9th March 2020, the fire burnt about 18.6 million hectares destroyed over 5,900 buildings, and killed more than 34 people. Nearly three billion animals were killed and some displaced.
Top celebrities and top politicians such as Chadwick Boseman died in 2020. He was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it for 4 years as it progressed to stage 4. The iconic black panther actor was loved by many.
John Jerry Rawlings was a former president of Ghana and the founder of the National Democratic Congress. He died later in the year after a short sickness
Ghana recorded its first case on 13 March. Agitation increased as we were now adjusting to the new normal. Washing the hands too regularly than before and wearing a nose mask.
On 15th March, at 10 pm, President Nana Akufo-Addo banned all public gatherings to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at a press briefing on the state of COVID-19. All Schools and Universities were also closed. Some Churches operated online services and accepted mobile money and other online means of payments as an offering
There were plagues in certain parts of Africa. locust invaded farms in countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. These locusts invaded most of Eastern Africa and greatly affected crops that fed millions of people.
In May, there was a video circulating on social media of an African American who was arrested and murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. The video showed how he was pinned to the ground by the officer’s knee for about 8 minutes 46 seconds as he pleaded and struggled for breath. This ignited condemnation from all around the world as people protested for black lives. The Black Lives Matter protest peaked in June as people from different country joined the protest from where they resided
By the end of May, most African countries had recorded coronavirus cases mainly imported from Europe. Several struggled with feeding despite the government trying its best to provide food, water, and reduce the price of electricity bills. People longed for a normal day, stressful weeks, and days of being close to friends and families.
The media was quick to announce the increase in figures. Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and Collaborative Research became a popular name in Ghana as they were the official centers for testing the virus.
Some countries experienced minor earthquakes in some parts of their cities. On 24th June 2020 in Accra, certain parts of the city that felt the Earthquake that was around 10:53 were Gbawe, McCarthy Hill, Tesano, Dansoman, Kaneshie Dunkanaa, Lapaz, Achimota, Santa Maria, Adenta, Weija, Madina, Kwabenya, East Legon, Nsawam, Koforidua, Swedru, and Dodowa.
Many businesses were heavily affected as a result of Covid 19. People were dying per day in most countries. Countries like Germany are still recording a daily death toll of about 962 and 24,740 new cases in 24 hours. Europe has over 78.7 million cases with 44.3 million recovered and the death toll sadly at 1.73million with the United stated leading and India being next.
As Covid19 figures were on the rise, Nigerians were also protesting against SARS. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was supposed to protect Nigerians had so many records of abuses. Many Nigerians started a massive protest against police brutality and called for the disbanding of the unit.
The police attracted mostly males because of their tattoos, hairstyle, or car types. They would mount roadblocks, arrest without warrant, rape women, and sometimes extort money from them. As many protested, some lost their lives in the race.
The year was also an election year for different countries such as the United States, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Central Africa Republic, and a few others.
The United States elected Joe Biden who was running with the incumbent president Donald Trump. In Ghana, the incumbent president maintained his seat as he won the elections.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara won a third term in office as this did not go well for some. They were against his re-election as his third term violates the constitution. Some African presidents that also won re-election were President John Magufuli of Tanzania and President Faure Gnassingbe who has ruled Togo since 2005.
Despite the evil 2020 brought, some managed to overcome it. Unfortunately, even though certain activities have been suspended many are still trying to live and stay hopeful.
The year is ending in a few days and some countries are still on lockdown. Millions are still in the hospital. There is a saying that, do not expect too much to feel disappointed. 2020 thought us that lesson.
2021 is almost here. We have survived the evils 2020 had. We sailed through. We still have to stay positive. Just like the good book of Jeremiah rightly quoted ”for I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord” and let us keep in mind the quote in the holy Quran; the patrons of Allah surely will have no fear on them nor will they grieve
Yes, we can.
Benedicta Dorcas Tetteh
Picture by Markus Winkler
Describe 2020 in your own words and share with us.