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2020: A tale of two epochs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light...

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,” says Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities.

Yet even though Dickens may have been describing the highs and lows of the French Revolution, he could as well been tellingly providing a trompe l’oeil of the ins and outs of the year 2020.

In the U.S., where on May 25, the death of the African American, George Floyd, appears, after COVID-19, to have been enlisted in the history book of the year. When I saw the footage, in particular, I was appalled by the disparaging and dehumanising knock-down demonstrated by Mr. Derek Chauvin. Chauvin’s chauvinism, to be sure, was and is an unspoken, cruel act. A series of week-or-so protests were precipitated.

On June 30, nonetheless, China’s imposing of national security laws on Hong Kong was welcomed with harsh criticism and fanaticism. Some, on the one hand, claim that it’s a breach on and betrayal of the UK-China “one country, two systems” 1997 bilateral agreement. Others, on the other hand, argue that such an attempt could be ostensibly Orwellian, after all. The UK had to, as some form of retribution, provide visa for hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers whose freedom and rights might have been impounded on some way or other.

The August 9 presidential election of Belarus witnessed a grave stumbling block. Whilst Ms. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate, claimed gross rigging and robbing of the election, 26-years-in-power President Alexander Lukashenko maintained a fierce and unflinching victory over the election. The efforts of neighbouring countries – Russia, Lithuania and Latvia – to resolve the misunderstandings and misgivings between people and power became futile as Lukashenko singlehandedly and controvertibly swore himself in to power.

Elsewhere, #EndSARS is au courant a cryogenic catch-cry of many a Nigerian. The protest’s hinged towards reformation and recalibration of the Nigerian police system and structure. The underbellies and undertones of #EndSARS are pretty similar to #BlackLivesMatter, by the way. It’s, what’s more, born by the burgeoning alleged police brutalities and bestialities. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, they say, should be ended.

Otherwise known as the ‘‘Hand of God,’’ Diego Maradona’s death on November 25 definitely could not be thought too soon. Argentine President Alberto Fernandez declared three-day mourning for the football legend. 60 years of age, Maradona has actually proven a model and mentor for aspiring and inspiring footballers. Maradona lives on as we have the likes of Lionel Messi in the spirit and power of the ‘‘Hand of God.’’

The coronavirus, no doubt, has given us a formidable, formative and fraternal experience. The inventory of COVID-19 vaccines does show that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Our experience in those seasons of Light and Darkness should rather be a spark of force whose linear momentum would help us live through the spring of hope and winter of despair of coming years.

Segun Ige.