“Challenging” is perhaps one of the best words to describe 2017, a year that brought us closer to the second decade of the 21st century with scandals, political shifts and catastrophes that tested societies around the world. Here are some of the most consequential events experienced in 2017:
In the United States, President Donald Trump succeeded former President Barack Obama to the dismay of millions of Americans who did not expect the sordid state of affairs that the White House has become. With the US becoming less significant and more alienated in the world stage, 2018 may very well be Trump’s last year in office. The White House’s response to the Charlottesville clashes between white supremacist groups and anti-racism protesters further served to increase polarity and conflict in the country.
In Africa, the democratic process was thoroughly put to the test in Kenya, where the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta was marred by campaign violence, allegations of corruption, and a hotly contested race that required the words of former US President Barack Obama, a man with Kenyan roots, to defuse. International observers congratulated Kenyan voters on keeping the peace on election day, though the results were eventually nullified by the Supreme Court—a first in African political history. A second round of voting resulted in many protests and violent clashes.
Another high-profile African politician who made international headlines in 2017 was former President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who was forced by his own military forces to relinquish power after nearly 40 years in power, but this embattled nation is hopeful that a democratic dawn is forthcoming. Around the world, the nuclear tensions of the Cold War were revived by US President Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un, two world leaders who in 2017 engaged in a clumsy game of political chess that made people in South Korea, Japan, Samoa, and Hawaii very nervous as the two threatened each other on Twitter while North Korea tested missiles and the US tested ballistic defense systems.
Climate change was certainly felt in the US as two devastating hurricanes caused billions of dollars in damage and killed hundreds of people in Caribbean island territories as well as in major Texas cities; ironically, these disasters took place after Trump removed the US from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
In Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, a cyclone and torrential rains killed hundreds in 2017. Massive and deadly flooding struck communities in China, Peru and Costa Rica. Landslides killed 174 in the Congo and in Colombia while Mexico was rocked by two major earthquakes.
Sexual Misconduct Scandals
A rash of sexual misconduct accusations brought down powerful men in the fields of entertainment, politics and business in the US. Leading the charge should have been Trump, whose accusers struggled throughout 2017 to make their voices heard lest they are overshadowed by various investigations into political corruption; alas, the most prolifically accused was Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, followed by actor Kevin Spacey, news anchor Matt Lauer, Senator Al Franken, Representative John Conyers, who was a prominent African American in the US Congress, and Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore, who lost an important political seat due to allegations of molesting teenage girls.