We are always so quick to see history as a topic that is studied in school or something that is “old” BUT history happens every day. What occurs today, is by definition, history tomorrow.
What then happened last year? No matter where you come from the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life in some way but what else took place? What “history” did you perhaps miss?
Here is a super quick trip back to 2021 for a look at the highs and lows of the year that was.
One of the biggest events of the year took place early on and it had an impact on many other events throughout 2021. On 6th January 2021 supporters of outgoing American President Donald Trump attacked the US Capitol building in what has since been declared an act of domestic terrorism. Five people were killed in an act that was instigated by a tweet from Trump himself.
Weeks later on 20th January, Joe Biden was sworn in as the new President.
The image of the Capitol being stormed and burning has become an iconic image. The next image of 2021 to become well known was that of the container ship, Ever Given, blocking in the Suez Canal. (Yes the name on the side of the ship says Evergreen but the ships actual name is Ever Given)!
This incident led to many memes stating that anything you may do wrong in 2021 is nothing compared to that of the Ever Given, as at least your mistake cannot be seen from space AND you didn't block the Suez Canal! Yes, the ship blocking the canal was easily seen from space and it stopped global shipping for six days!
More devastating images were created at the end of August when the USA withdraw from Afghanistan, ending the War in Afghanistan that had been taking place since 2001. As the US withdrew the Taliban advanced gaining control of key areas and today have re-gained control of the country after two decades.
Other places around the world faced their own difficult times as well. During the peak of the pandemic in Haiti, in July 2021, the President was assassinated and in August a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck killing more than 2,200 people.
Haiti is a nation that has long suffered instability and gang violence. President Jovenel Moise came to power in 2017 and though anti-government, political protests and violence remained common place it has been reported that in the lead up to his assassination he was working to expose corrupt politicians and businesspeople in the illegal drug trade as well as corruption across all levels of government. His death led to heighted violence and instability in the country.
When it comes to the earthquake it was the deadliest natural disaster of 2021. While approximately 2,200 people were killed the destruction was also immense. At least 37,000 homes were thought to have been destroyed but this number was later increased to 60,700. UNICEF reported that at least 650,000 Haitians were in need of humanitarian aid. On top of the devastation gangs took over many of the damaged towns with looting rife.
In Australia the year began with a slight change to the national anthem. On 1st January 2021, the words were amended with the line “for we are young and free” changed to “for we are one and free”.
The mouse plague reached further towards the coast spreading throughout NSW and Queensland, eventually making it over the Blue Mountains and into surrounding suburbs.
Australia made worldwide news after Facebook blocked all Australian news websites from sharing content on 18th February over plans to introduce a new law in Australia which would see online platforms such as Facebook and Google have to pay news companies for their content. Eventually, Facebook re-friended Australia and we got the news back.
On 19th March, major flooding occurs on the NSW mid-north coast and western Sydney causing mass evacuations. The following day Warragamba Dam overflows forcing further evacuations along the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers. The map below, from the BBC, shows the extent of where the river levels rose with the blue showing the areas in Western Sydney affected by the floods.
The country would be hit by earthquakes, tornados and a bombardment of wild weather throughout the year. On top of this there were also mass protests against lockdown and vaccination laws. At the height of these NSW Premiere Gladys Berejiklian resigns as she is forced to face an ICAC investigation into her ex-boyfriend.
While most of Eastern Australia entered lockdown, thanks to COVID once again, our Aussie athletes reigned supreme overseas. World #1 Ash Barty won her first Wimbledon title, the IOC awarded the 2032 Summer Olympics to Brisbane and at the current Summer Games in Tokyo the Aussies took home 17 gold, 7 silver and 22 bronze to finish 6th on the medal tally. The Aussie’s also won the T20 World Cup while the Penrith Panthers took out the NRL Grand final.
Like most places around the world, the year ended with Australia's COVID infection rate skyrocketing to its highest ever. We can only guess what 2022 will bring.
Over in the Caribbean nation of Barbados on 30th November, they celebrated their inaugural Independence Day as the country transitioned into a Republic. The island nation had been under British rule since the seventeenth century however in 1966 the country became independent within the British Commonwealth. In 2021 Barbados removed the Queen as head of state, becoming the newest Republic in the world, however the country has elected to remain a member of the Commonwealth. Prince Charles was the Queen's representative at the official ceremony while singer Rhianna was declared a national hero, this follows her 2018 declaration as a National Ambassador as a Barbadian native. The new head of state, and first President, is now Dame Sandra Mason.
In science/technology news a NASA helicopter performed the first powered flight on another planet, Mars while a SpaceX flight became the first all-civilian spaceflight.
Over in the South American nation of El Salvador, they became the first country in the world to accept bitcoin as an official currency.
The world did loose some well-loved souls, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa (aged 90 died on 26 December), Bert Newton, Australian TV personality, (died aged 83 on 30 October), Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth, (died aged 99 on 9 April) and Betty White, well-known American star whose career spanned nine decades, died just weeks shy of her 100th birthday on 31 December. Pictured below: Desmond Tutu, Bert Newton, Prince Philip and Betty White.
The top Billboard songs of 2021 were Levitating by Dua Lipa, Save Your Tears by the Weekend and Ariana Grande; followed in third place by Blinding Lights performed by The Weekend. In Australia Justin Bieber spent the most time at #1 in the ARIA Charts with his two hits Peaches and Stay.
In a year severely impacted by lockdowns the movie box office took another giant hit. For this reason the top grossing film of 2021 was one of the last released, Spider Man: No Way Home.
What will 2022 bring? Just a few days in and already the world is facing many key dilemmas and decisions.
How will we reflect on 2021 in the years to come?
Only the next year will answer these questions.
Want to help?
If you would like to get your year off to a helping start after hearing about the hardships of those overseas why not make a donation to a well-deserving charity? Above the Haitian image comes from World Vision. Here is the link to the page where you can read more about the impact of 2021 on the nation and perhaps consider supporting them.