We live in interesting times and 2012 will be just as eventful
The Times Editorial: It's been a year of natural disasters, political upheaval, economic meltdown, royal weddings and unbridled joy on the sports fields - and we can probably expect more of the same in 2012.
The deadly earthquake and tsunami that ripped through Japan, almost triggering a nuclear disaster, was mirrored, in North Africa and the Arab world, by a tsunami of another kind - one which led to a series of dictatorships being challenged by democratic uprisings.
The winds of change that blew away three long-self-serving despots - Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine ben Ali, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi - will continue to rage in a region in which oligarchs have held sway over ordinary folk for too long.
The dictators who remain will either yield to mounting pressure for reform or be swept away - even in Syria, where the brutal Assad regime has killed more than 5000 people since March.
Europe's sovereign debt crisis has not been resolved and its effects will continue to be felt on world markets next year as nations - South Africa included - struggle to counter the aftermath of the financial meltdown of 2008-2009 and return to growth.
South Africans will wait with bated breath for the outcome of the ANC's policy conference in June, at which a decision will be made on whether our mineral resources are to be nationalised.
The ruling party celebrates its centenary next month amid a leadership battle that will pit President Jacob Zuma against a faction headed by suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
Despite all the political thunderclouds, South Africans can draw cheer from the fact that civil society is finding its voice - as the campaigns against the Protection of State Information Bill and the e-tolling system have demonstrated.
We wish all our readers a joyous festive season and a happy New Year.