Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Year That Was

The year of the Lord, Two Thousand and Eight has come and gone. And what a year it was! At the end of the year, I was ruminating on the happenings from the past 12 months-the good, the not-so-good and the downright tragedies. This was no spring season, 2008 came in with a roar and ended with a bang.

It came in with a roar when on the night of January 3rd 2008, the whole world sat up to take notice when the scrawny black guy from Chicago toppled the Democratic Dynasty and came in first in the Iowa Primaries, giving a speech that left the hair on everyone’s skin raised. It left with a bang with the exposure of the largest, longest-running Ponzi scheme that left us wondering about otherwise intelligent people-what were they thinking? Was it avarice or a touch of stupidity or both?

An elderly acquaintance of mine who also happened to be Nigerian reminded me during a casual conversation that it was a Leap Year. ‘Strange things happen in a Leap Year’ she said, ‘we will not see these things again for another four years’. Mmmm…folk wisdom, you may say but I took a good look at this woman and went back to my office scratching my head. Putting aside my religious stand on astrology for a second, I decided to think about the possibility of a connection between Leap Years and unexpected happenings. Could this really explain the unprecedented bad and the ugly seen in this extra-ordinary year?

A year that heralded the collapse of Capitalism as we’ve always known it leaving senior apostles and evangelists of the financial doctrine biting their tongues during congressional hearings on what went wrong. Global financial strangulations, free-falling stocks, dried-up pension funds, job losses, home foreclosures, premature deaths, and all the negativities that came in 2008? Surviving the year alive and in good health was a cause for celebration and gratitude to God. I wish I could agree with my colleague on the Leap Year theory but my faith tells me it took more than the alignment of the stars.

But what about the good? The election of a first generation American of African heritage as POTUS? True, there have been first-generation American Presidents of European descent but the election of the son of an African man in a country where a good number of people still think of Africa as a place where people live on trees makes you wonder about divine ordination. The Olympic Opening Ceremonies are always worth looking forward to every four years, but I feel a deep compassion for the United Kingdom, slated next to live up to the extra-ordinary, spectacular and unbelievable Beijing Opening Ceremonies. I wish them luck.

My favorite fixation in 2008? The introduction of PALINESE into the American lexicon. Palinese is defined as a mish-mash of incoherent words and thoughts that do not convey any particular message in response to specific questions. When delivered from a pretty face, your knee-jerk reaction is to;
a) leave your jaws wide open in disbelief for 5 minutes at the risk of Temporo-mandibular dysfunction;
b)pinch yourself to check if you are in real time and space or
c) merely shake your head and close your eyes.

On the other hand, if you are from the opposing camp, you ogle at the combination of gorgeous beauty and determined grit and ignore that there was no substance in what you just heard. Whatever be the case, if only for the ability to consistently deliver these contrasting reactions, methinks the Wasilla Wonder Woman (W3) deserved to be TIME magazine’s 2008 Person of the Year. The Democrats must have felt upon her introduction to the world in August 2008, that Santa had come early. Between the fixation on Palinese and the economic catastrophe, the lucky winds shifted their way en-masse.

So long 2008! We welcome President Barack Hussein Obama and wish him all the best as he begins the hard work of actualizing his campaign promise of CHANGE. We underestimated him as being up to the task prior to his historic Iowa Primary win in January 2008. With the brilliant team he has put together, we will not underestimate him again. GO BARACK GO!!!

By MaryAnn Yonkers (