Life is all about perspectives and 2020 gave us a wide spectrum of how life can look. It was a year that caught everyone by surprise. We did not see Covid-19 lurking, and when it emerged, we could not comprehend it. We still do not, 10 months into the pandemic.
A great multitude of lives have been transformed by coronavirus and if you ask, most people will tell you how bad a year 2020 has been. The pandemic has become prolonged and protracted, slowly wreaking medical, economic, social and psychological havoc on people of all nations.
At the time of writing, 83 million people across the globe have been infected, out of which 1.8 million lives have perished. In its second wave (some may call it the third), the virus is spreading more quickly and some nations have gone on another lockdown. This pandemic is not giving the world a break, especially this writer, whose office has been closed since March 2020.
We are living in extraordinary times. Contagious outbreaks have occurred in this generation, from cholera to H5N1, Bird flu to SARS and Ebola. But nothing compares to Covid-19. Humans have not faced an enemy on this scale for a century.
The generation that experienced the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 is different. The tragedy that ended up wiping 100 million of the world’s population belong to another age. It was one of the deadliest human disasters, but we did not see it. We cannot tell that story from our own experience.
While Covid 2019 has not reached the magnitude of the 1918 pandemic, we are nearly collapsing under its heavy weight. We want it over with. It has knocked us off our perches, and the toll is rising.
“As doubt spread, Covid-19 vaccines arrived in record time. But the vaccines have become victims of conspiracy, and the issues of 2020 are certainly spilling into 2021.”
Many families have lost loved ones to, or gone through the trauma of treatment for, coronavirus. While Nigeria has not been hard hit for yet unknown reasons by the virus, prominent citizens have been lost. The fear of sickness and death hangs over all, and caution is not enough to survive infection.
While the loss of life is minimal in Nigeria, economic injury from the pandemic is massive. At one point, the dollar traded for nearly 600 naira, the highest in history. The Buhari administration has been borrowing to keep the economy afloat, as it saved little for a time like this.
Hunger has ravaged the land, manifesting itself in various ways. I take the view that the #EndSARS movement is a reaction to economic challenges from the Covid-19 lockdown. The evidence is the looting of food banks that followed the protests in many cities across the country.
Images of Nigerians carrying bags of rice and other foodstuff out of suddenly discovered food warehouses showed a nation that had been suffering from basic needs and was in need of intervention while government officials sabotaged efforts to get help to them.
They year 2020 has also been a year in which conspiracies and misinformation rose to another level, most especially in Nigeria. Almost any subject relating to technology, science and politics wound up with a conspiracy angle. Bill Gates, Barack Obama, WHO, 5G technology, vaccines and other persons and subjects of interest had some Armageddon theory woven around them.
Misinformation has been at a level of pure madness, as carriers ranged from religious leaders to journalists, politicians and other well-educated folks. As doubt spread, Covid-19 vaccines arrived in record time. But the vaccines have become victims of conspiracy, and the issues of 2020 are certainly spilling into 2021.
Too soon to talk about 2021 – I leave that to rehabilitated prophets. Let’s stay on 2020.
If we step back a little and do some soul-searching, 2020 has brought more positives than negatives. In retrospect, it would be a year to remember for good things.
Citizens of the world are still relishing the denial of a second term to the US President, Mr. Donald Trump. The loathsome, rabble-rouser would have won the election without Covid-19. In fact, all the statistics looked good for Trump because the American economy was doing fine.
The trouble for him began with Covid-19, which he mishandled so much that it became an undoing and his graveyard.
The fact that the election was close, even with Trump’s poor handling of coronavirus, in which 350,000 Americans have so far died, is evident of what the outcome could have been. Americans now look forward to a new direction under a Joe Biden administration, which may have been impossible without Covid-19.
As people had time to ponder and focus under lockdown, the issues of justice and human rights gained global attention. Starting with the killing of George Floyd in front of phone cameras in the United States, the world came to the conclusion that racial injustice and oppression cannot be sustained in any society.
Taking a knee in representation of the call for justice for black people has become a feature of the English Premier League and other sports around the world. A Champions League game was stopped in Paris following a racial tone by a referee.
The pandemic showed the weakness of man’s spirit to go it alone. It made it obvious that we are all inter-dependent and connected, and that financial success has its limits. People looked towards each other to find inspiration and strength.
Coronavirus forced us all to reflect and introspect on our relationships, at a time when the societal instinct was individualistic. Families were forced to stay together longer, in my case for months on end. The more we reflected, the more we saw life in a different light. We may not appreciate how the lockdowns changed our lives.
“In 2020, Science came to the rescue through mRNA, which introduce antibodies into our cells and teach our bodies how to make a protein that triggers an immune response.”
I wrote recently how working from home may ultimately be recorded in history as one of the defining events of the year 2020, asserting that it may rank higher in significance than coronavirus itself.
Technology is enabling a revolution in much of the world, and rousing a rethink in places where workers have not been given the tools to allow working remotely. Industries and societies are measuring their advancement and sophistication by how much they have prepared for a cloud-first way of working.
Countries like Nigeria are thinking about how GDP can be sustained when people cannot leave their homes, since nations that have this capability are the most economically bouyant today.
With technology also comes social connectivity. Classmates, families, friends and co-workers are talking and working through remote meeting software such as Zoom, Skype, Freeconferencecalls, Teams, Hangouts, WebEx and GoToMeeting. No longer do we have to travel to attend funerals, weddings and child-naming. Life is possible online. 2020 made it so apparent.
Technological innovations did not stop with computers. Covid-19 pushed man to develop vaccine in record time, to the annoyance of conspiracists. They ask, how come the vaccine was developed in months, instead of years? They wonder why there is no vaccine for non-viral diseases such as diabetes and cancer? They are concerned that Bill Gates and George Soros have slipped some chips into our boides to give us the mark of the beast.
Even when vaccines were not developed so quickly, they always aroused suspicion. This time, the pace of innovation showed itself in form of mRNA vaccines, a first in medical history. mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine that trigger an immune response, instead of the old way of injecting a weakened germ into our bodies. In 2020, Science came to the rescue through mRNA, which introduce antibodies into our cells and teach our bodies how to make a protein that triggers an immune response.
More importantly, 2020 taught us to look to God as the source of all prophecies. For years, “men of God” have been giving false prophetic statements. In 2020, one couldn’t name any of them who was close enough to God to know about Covid-19. They got it so wrong. Prophets will have to think twice now before they mutter a word.
2020 is the year in which humans became really human, and God showed up as God.