Days, months and even years come and go, and with time, recede into insignificance. But as 2011 comes to a close and following the fall of the mighty, including the brutal demise of one of Africa's most iconic figures, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gathafi, we believe this year will linger long in the memory. As we prepare to settle into a new year, Ben Akinyemi and Regina Jane Jere take us through some of the most captivating events and stories that probably broke or warmed our hearts, but more poignantly, reshaped Africa's political, social, cultural and economic landscape. Sit back and reminisce
WIKILEAKS ON AFRICA
The year began with an interesting insight into what America really thinks of Africa. For months, the controversial leaking of US embassy cables by the whistleblowing website Wikileaks revealed some unpalatable "home truths" about American foreign policy on Africa, stirring debate and doubts about President Barack Obama's future dealings with his "fatherland".
"It is always hard to judge how some will behave (or surprise you) when leadership is unexpectedly thrown in their lap. The verdict is out on (Goodluck) Jonathan and his previously underwhelming personality and performance needs to keep us in the cautious lane. But so far so good."
Wikileaks cable from the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria
BEN ALI FLEES AFTER 24 YEARS OF IRON RULE
Two decades in power can be a short time in politics. After weeks of growing civil unrest, Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali finally fled to Saudi Arabia. Former Speaker, Fouad Mebazaa, was quickly sworn in as interim president.
"What is this for? To change Zine al-Abidine? Hasn't he told you he would step down after three years? Be patient for three years and your son stays alive."
NIGERIAN AND EGYPTIAN NEW YEAR BOMB BLASTS
The New Year also started with deadly bomb blasts both north and south of the Sahara as tensions ran high in Egypt and Nigeria. Presidents of both countries went to the airwaves in attempts to calm fears.
"We are all in this together. We will face up to terrorism and defeat it"
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC PLUS CA CHANGE ...
Following numerous postponements, and amidst cries of voting irregularities, the country held its national elections, with nearly i million people casting their votes, resulting in an unsurprising victory for incumbent president, Francois Bozize.
* SOUTH SUDAN
JUBILANT QUEUES FORM AT HISTORIC POLLS
Nearly 4 million south Sudanese flocked to the polls to decide the future of their region. The results were overwhelming: nearly 99% of the votes cast were in favour of South Sudan's independence.
"The past week has given the world renewed faith in the prospect of a peaceful, prosperous future for all of the Sudanese people."
North Africa's civil uprisings spread to Egypt as thousands took to the streets in the county's major cities. Protestors were involved in running battles with government security officials as Egypt's 82-year-old president, Hosni Mubarak, desperately tried to cling on to power.
EGYPT FALL OF A PHARAOH
After 29 years in power, facing growing international pressure as well as committed internal resistance, Hosni Mubarak resigned as Egyptian president. The former military commander then went into hiding. The revolution was commended for its peaceful nature, but 800 people died with more than 6,000 left injured.
"This is one of the greatest days of my life. I am proud to have participated in this revolution from the start. I am now definitely proud to be an Egyptian, and I am sure better days are to come for Egypt."
Baker Ibrahim, resident of Alexandria
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS SAIF AL-ISLAM
What started as anti-government protests soon erupted into civil war, with pro-Gathafi forces battling revolutionaries throughout the country. Many were surprised that Gathafi's son, Saif al-Islam, emerged as the regime's hotheaded spokesman.
STAYING PUT: 25 YEARS ON
President Yoweri Museveni extended his 25-year rule in Uganda for another 4 years, after winning the country's presidential elections amid cries of foul play by the opposition, whom he fended off with more than 68% of the vote.
"The power of the incumbent was exercised to such an extent as to compromise severely the level playing field. In many cases, it was difficult to distinguish between buying supporters and facilitating party supporters."
Dame Billie Miller,leader ofthe Commonwealth election observer team to Uganda
COUP? WHAT COUP?
An attack on the palace of the president of DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, left six people dead in what was described by government officials as a "coup attempt". President Kabila was catapulted into power after his father, President Laurent Kabila, was assassinated to years ago.
DRAMA IN THE HAGUE
Charles Taylor's lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths, stormed out of a war crimes court in The Hague when judges rejected a written summary at the end of the former Liberian strong man's trial.
"A criminal trial is not a beauty contest. We are not asking this court to like Charles Taylor."
Courtenay Grifluky QC
CAF WHAT A CHARADE!
African football came out scathed from the 33rd General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum (the CAF's birthplace), with critics and disgruntled fans rebuking the African football body as lacking the leadership skills needed to halt the decline of the sport on the continent.
FELA KUTI GOES HOME
the award-winning musical depicting the life of one of Africa's greatest musicians finally reached Nigeria after a global odyssey lasting two years. The musician was the scourge of past Nigerian governments due to his outspoken nature and human rights activism.
"My nephew had a common entrance exam in school and the question was this: which of these five people was not a national hero? The answer was Fela. That was common entrance. Hoe do you think I feel? I think they are arseholes. Hoe cab you have an exam like that?"
Yeni Kuti, Fela's eldest child
STARS DONATE THEIR GATHAFI LOOT
Amidst growing pressure, pop stars, including 50 Cent, Beyonce and Usher donated their fees received for the Gathafi family's New Year's Eve event in 2009 to charity. The singers were paid up to $2m each for the private show in the Caribbean.
SOUTH AFRICA: MARVEL BLOOM
Botanists celebrated the discovery of an iris that flowers for just two weeks a year. The pale blue flower was unearthed in a daisy field in the Western Cape region known for its rich floral variety.
NIGER: THE RETURN OF THE OPPOSITION
After one coup and one year of military rule, Niger returned to civilian rule following a free and fair election, which saw the former opposition leader, Mahamadou Issoufou, win 58% of the vote. His success came after almost 20 years in opposition.
"If we can hold a successful election then together we will have accomplished bringing about a democracy that can serve as an example to Africa."
Junta leader, General Salon Djibo
SHARPEVILLE SURVIVOR GETS HOUSE AFTER 51 YEARS
A survivor of the Sharpeville massacre moved into her first home at the age of no. Maloso Mamai, who was shot in the leg 51 years ago, was given the keys to a government-built house on the anniversary of the massacre - an event that...