Columnists Features

Some events that rocked, shaped 2014

KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka
IF THERE is one single event that drastically shaped the year 2014, it is the death of President Sata.
President Sata’s death on October 28 has shaped the political history of the country few could have imagined in September 2011 when he was voted in as Head of State.
Zambia will enter the New Year tomorrow still trying to fill the gap left by Mr Sata. It will not be filled until at least January 20.
After 10 years in the opposition, Mr Sata was finally voted President at the fourth time of asking, beating the incumbent Rupiah Banda.
It was a momentous occasion, buoyed by Dandy Krazy’s revolutionary song Donchi Kubeba. In fact, it was more like a carnival.
However, a completely different scenario was to engulf the country between Mr Sata’s death at King Edward VII’s Hospital, Beaumont St, Central London, UK on October 28 and his eventual burial at the Embassy Park in Lusaka on November 11.
His death marked the end of an era, albeit a very colourful one.
Starting out as a councillor in the early 80s, he went on to serve as Lusaka District Governor, Minister of State for Local Government and Housing, Minister of Local Government, Minister of Health, Minister of Labour, Minister Without Portfolio, opposition leader for 10 years and finally President for three years.
A new era awaits the country when it goes to the presidential poll on January 20.
Mr Sata’s death came four days after Zambia celebrated its golden jubilee.
Having travelled to the UK for medical attention, he was unable to officiate at the celebrations. But that did not stop many Zambians from celebrating their country’s 50th independence anniversary; they organised different events which they tagged to the golden jubilee.
Indeed, so much has happened in Zambia in the last 50 years.
In its 50 years, it has had five Presidents, seen the lows and highs of the parastatals as well as sadness and joy in sports.
Therefore, October 24 provided a moment for reflection.
One of the things the country was celebrating is the peace that it has largely enjoyed since 1964 – a sharp contrast to most countries on the continent.
But if you think the firing of Wynter Kabimba as Minister of Justice and ruling Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general could singularly steal the political show, then you were in for a rude shock.
The race for the PF presidency provided the media with plenty of headlines until a ceasefire was declared by many of those interested in the presidency which eventually went to Edgar Lungu, the Minister of Defence and Justice.
But it was not just the PF that had its own squabbles with the presidency, – the former ruling party Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) National Executive Committee (NEC) members clashed when some of them went for former President Rupiah Banda as their candidate in the January 20 election as party president Nevers Mumba sought the courts’ intervention.
Local politics aside, a number of international happenings provided Zambia with a lot of talking points.
In March, a Malaysian Airline plane, flight MH370, disappeared from radar screens and was thought to have come down in the Indian Ocean. An international effort got under-way, combing the seas for the jet but without success. Its eventual resting place, with 239 passengers, still remains a mystery.
It was not the last time Malaysian Airlines was to make headlines. A few weeks later, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot out of the sky above the eastern Ukraine.
As the year came to a close, an AirAsia Flight QZ8501 disappeared in Indonesian airspace with 162 people aboard. By press time, officials believed that the missing commercial jet was likely to be at the bottom of the sea, based on radar data from the plane’s last contact.
Around the same time, a trial of the century got under-way when South African athlete Oscar Pistorius was tried for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day.
The verdict was that Pistorius was not guilty of murder, but guilty of culpable homicide and reckless endangerment with a firearm at a restaurant.
He received a prison sentence of a maximum of five years for culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for the separate reckless endangerment conviction.
But who can forget the Boko Haram?
One night in April, 276 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from a government school in the town of Chibok in Borno state. The responsibility for the kidnapping was claimed by Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist organisation based in north-east Nigeria.
The international community was horrified, and what followed was a campaign slugged ‘Bring Back Our Girls’.
Boko Haram, which translates as “western education is sin”, is opposed to the westernisation of Nigeria which they maintain is the root cause of criminal behaviour in the country.
Another story that cannot be forgotten is that of Ebola, which wreaked havoc in West Africa. The outbreak was first reported in March, and is now considered as the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.
It has actually been reported that the current epidemic sweeping across the region has now killed more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined.
By the close of last week, about 7,580 people had been reported as having died from the disease in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali.
But how do you forget the most awaited sports event on the calendar? Or maybe it should be said that how do you forget the capitulation of the hosts Brazil against eventual champions Germany in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup?
Maybe the reader should be asked how he or she remembers the year 2014.

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