What about the good news? During this festive period, whether or not Christmas is being celebrated, it is time for Mankind to come together in a group hug and reaffirm our commitment to trying to live together like brothers around our common lake – the sea.
Let us enter into this spirit in the New Year by remembering the good news from 2006. How did we celebrate together, what were the many cultural events unsung in the world media, what happened in the area of culture, sports and science? We bring you a sample of the good news produced and created this year around the world.
January kicked off with the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. UNESCO launched a three-year programme to protect World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites. January also saw the Ice Sculpture Festival in the PR China and on January 12th, there was the Lavagem do Bomfim (Bonfim Washing Ceremony) in Bahia, Brazil, home of the Afro-Brazilian culture, uniting Catholicism with African traditions into the region’s unique religion, Candomble.
In February, a Pharaonic tomb was found intact at Pella, Valley of the Kings, while in Greece, a royal tomb from the 2nd or 3rd century BC was discovered. In the sports area, the Winter Olympics opened in Turin, Italy. Ghanaian communities presented their local cultures at the Harvest Festival. On February 12th, the Lantern Festival marked the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations which began on January 29th. The Carnival, celebrating Shrove Tuesday and the coming of Lent, lit up the streets of cities across Brazil. Egypt won the African Cup of Nations, the African football championship, beating Ivory Coast 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw.
March saw the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, while there were two more important archaeological discoveries – of a shipwrecked 14th century vessel off Stockholm, Sweden and traces of an 8,000-year-old culture in Shahrud, IR Iran. In India, the Holi festival celebrated the end of Winter and the destruction of the evil demon, Holika. Guatemala celebrated its Carnaval festival this month. 8th March was International Women’s Day. On 26th March, the 7th Biennial Education Conference took place in Gabon, studying Africa’s education policies.
April was the month of Holy Week (9th to 16th), with religious and carnival processions comemmorating, or celebrating, this event. In Mexico, a 1,500-year-old pyramid, the Hill of the Star, was discovered near Mexico City. The Tiktaalik genus, linking fish to early land-mammals, was discovered by palaeontologists, and the finding of the fossil of Australopithecus anamensis helped to bridge the gap in early human evolution. Meanwhile in China, the Qing Ming Festival remembered the families’ ancestors, while graves were cleaned and decorated. The Thai New Year celebrations, called the Songkram Festival, took place between 13th and 15th April in which people paid homage to Buddha and also remembered their family ancestors. In Costa Rica, the San Carlos cattle fair rounded off the month.
May heralded the discovery of one of the earliest tattoos – the remains of a heavily-tattooed 1,500-year-old female mummy from the Moche tribe in Trujillo, Peru, was found. Barcelona beat Arsenal in the Champions League 2-1 and scientists revealed that AIDS developed among wild chimpanzees in Cameroon. On 13th May in India, the Buddha Poornima was celebrated. This event takes place at full moon day in the month of Vaishakha and commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. 25th May was Africa Day, remembering the setting up of the OAU on 25th May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The UN Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic had some positive references, showing that progress is being made.
In Portugal, June hosted, as usual, three popular saint’s festivities – Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter, these saints also being celebrated in many cities around the Portuguese-speaking Community of Nations (Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe Isles and East Timor). The FIFA World Cup started in Germany and Ronaldo scored his 15th goal in World Cup Final phases, breaking the world record. A new vaccine against cervical cancer was tested on 666 women in the USA and the results were described as extremely positive. For the first time,Global Development Finance shows more growth in South-South flows than in North-South flows. The African Union declared 2006 as the Year of African Languages and committed itself to supporting the survival and documentation of the continent’s 1,800 languages.
The World Cup ended in July, with a victory by Italy over France (5-3 penalties after a 1-1 draw). This was a fitting month for the discovery, under the Palatine in Rome, of the house of Cauis Julius Caesar Octavius, later Emperor Augustus (63 BC to 14 AD), the adopted son and successor of C. Julius Caesar, who gave the month its name.In Tanzania, the Saba Saba (Seven Seven) Festival was held on July 7th, an agricultural fair in which local communities celebrate the previous agricultural year. In July, the 30th Session of UNESCOs’ World Heritage Committee chose five African sites.
August. The month of the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, where it was decided to accelerate research, expanding human resources and intensifying the involvement of communities while new leadership schemes were launched to advance the response to this disease. On August 2nd, Patron’s Day was celebrated in Costa Rica with a pilgrimage to La Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles in Cartago, the spot where a statue of the Virgin Mary suddenly appeared, according to legend. Also in Latin America, in Brazil, the Festival of Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte was celebrated in Cachoeira, near Salvador, Bahia, comemmorating the liberty from Earth that is gained at the moment of Death. The Society which organises the event, founded in 1823, is composed of descendants of Africans. It was originally founded to gather money to free women slaves. Two Brazilian teams disputed the Libertadores Cup in Latin America, Internacional beating Sao Paulo 4-3 over two games.
September was when Europe’s first lunar probe, SMART 1 crash-landed on the Moon and the Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari was taken into space by the Soyuz TMA-8 vehicle. Here on Earth, 60 new animal species were found in the Coral Triangle, Indonesia. On September 11th, the 100th anniversary of the launching of Mahatma Gandhi’s Peaceful Resistance policy (Satyagraha) was commemorated as a Day of Peace. In Ukraine, a Pre-historic underground Pyramid was discovered at Luhansk, thought to pre-date the Giza Pyramids (2,500 BC). Guatemala and Costa Rica celebrated their Independence Days. While the death of Steve Irwin, the Australian crocodile hunter, can hardly be called good news, the fact that he died in action, doing what he loved, and would not have suffered unduly, together with the fondness with which he is remembered around the world, earns a respectful and heartfelt mention in this article.
In October, the new chemical element Ununoctium was discovered by Russian and American scientists, given the atomic number 118. In Peru, the whole month is celebrated as the Lord of Miracles Month in a procession during which it is believed the Lord of Miracles will protect the people from disease and disasters. It is described by some as the largest procession in South America. On the other side of the world, in Thailand, October is when the Trang Vegetarian Festival is celebrated with a ten-day strict vegetarian diet, providing good physical and spiritual health. In India, the Diwali Festival is celebrated for 21 days, starting on 21st, celebrating the return of Rama from an exile which lasted 14 years, with lamps and fireworks displays around the country. The Lusophone Games were hosted in Macau, a former Portuguese territory, and included participants from the 8 Portuguese-speaking countries, plus India (where Portugal had three territories in Goa, Daman and Diu), Equatorial Guinea and Sri Lanka, formerly a Portuguese possession. Moscow hosted the African Partnership Forum.
November is the month of Guy Fawkes’ Day in the UK, on November 5th (remembering the plot of Guy Fawkes to explode barrels of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament during the opening ceremony presided over by King James VI/I) and Saint Martin in Portugal on November 11th (A Roman General who converted to Christianity when he saw a beggar by the roadside, who revealed himself as Jesus when the General shared his cape with him, cutting it in half with his sword, because of the cold. The day is celebrated by roasting and sharing chestnuts and drinking new wine). November 5th is also the date of the main celebration in Thailand, Loy Krathong, when candles are floated on banana leaves on water. This month is also when Lima, Peru, celebrates many events connected with former Spanish celebrations.
In November 2006, the first babies were screened for faulty genes using PGH (Preimplantation Genetic Haplotyping) at Guy’s Hospital, London. In the environmental area, according to a UN report, the global devastation of trees had been reversed, with forests recovering and reviving. The UN Climate Change Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 6th to 17th November. After the China-Africa Summit in Beijing, at the end of the month, the Africa-South America Summit began in Abuja, Nigeria. Three major summits in two months, placing Africa firmly on the map.
December closed the year with the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar. In space, NASA proclaimed its intention to open a lunar base within the next 15 years, while vestiges of water were found on Mars. In sports, Russia won the Tennis Davis Cup, beating Argentina 3-2 in the final. Machine beat man, in the duel between chess grand master Vladimir Kramnik and Fritz-10, the result being 2-4, however the Russian Tolmachevy twins won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest with Vesenniy Dzhaz. Pachuca, (Mexico) beat Coloo-Colo (Chile) 2-1 in the South American Cup.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea