The first tottering steps have been taken into a New Year that fills cynics with trepidation and eternal optimists with hope for a future if not exactly filled with brightness and light, then at least with the warm glow of hope for a less confrontational 12 months ahead.
From a global perspective, Britain has made the decision to leave the European Union, with the uncertainties of Brexit and its effect on world trade still to be felt. So, too, the impact the election of the bombastic Donald Trump as American president and the longterm echoes of some high-profile sabre-rattling that preceded his inexorable march to the White House.
The threat of random attacks by radical Islamists on the innocents still prevails, as do the dark clouds of mistrust in the Far East, where Beijing is stretching the boundaries of Chinese foreign policy.
ALSO READ: Sports thrills and spills of 2016
But in Africa, a continent which has always known the miseries of internecine wars which, aligned to drought and starvation, have added immeasurably to what is often self-inflicted penance, there are conciliatory noises coming from the troubled Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the autocratic President Joseph Kabila has refused to relinquish power since his second and final mandate ended on December 20, with no sign of him stepping down and no hint of elections in sight.
Now, though, there are signs of a power-sharing accord in the crisis-torn nation of 70 million people under a transitional authority and a prime minister from among opposition ranks, leading up to elections at the end of the year.
There seems to be some glimmer of hope but as Nobel laureate VS Naipaul wrote in A Bend in the River, his epic novel on Africa: “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”