Tanzania was the proud 29th Commonwealth country to host the Queen’s Baton during its 190,000 km journey round 70 Commonwealth countries and territories ahead of this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.
The Baton arrived in Dar es Salaam on 18th January. During its busy stay in the country it was shown off to children at a fun sporting event called the ‘ BriTan Youth Games’ organised by the British High Commission and British societies in Dar es Salaam ; and to children at the Muhimbili National Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Ward.
British High Commissioner Dianna Melrose hosted a reception for dignitaries, sporting personalities, Commonwealth high commissioners and business leaders. The reception and BriTan Games were both Scottish themed with Scottish dancers, a Scottish piper and drummer and Scottish food and drink to celebrate the 20th Common wealth Games being held in Glasgow, Scotland.
On Sunday 19th January the Tanzania Olympic Committee and Ministry for Youth, Culture and Sports organised the Tanzania leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay through the streets of Dar es Salaam. HE President Kikwete received the Baton at the end of the relay at State House. A morning of football, athletics and netball had been organised at the National Stadium as a warm up for the relay by the British Council involving school children and street kids.
On Monday 20th January the baton was flown to Zanzibar where it was relayed through the streets of Stone Town before being presented to HE President Shein.
The Baton was escorted during its time in Tanzania by Kenyan Olympic record holder Kipchoge Keino of the Commonwealth Games Federation; officials from the Glasgow 2014 Queens Baton Relay team; and a BBC crew who are filming the Baton on its epic journey through the Commonwealth. Tanzania’s legendary Filbert Bayi, the Secretary General of the Tanzania Olympic Committee, and winner of Tanzania’s first Gold medal in the 1500m in 1974 at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand also carried the baton at various stages during its Tanzania journey. Mr Bayi’s 1500 meter record (3 minutes, 32.16 seconds) remains unbeaten in the Commonwealth Games.
Tanzania has a proud record at the Commonwealth Games. Its debut Commonwealth Games were in 1962 and it has achieved medal success at every Commonwealth Games from 1970 through to 2006. Tanzania’s last gold medal came in Melbourne in 2006 when Samson Ramadhani won the men’s marathon. Fabian Joseph won a Bronze medal that same year. Francis Naali won Gold in the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. Gidamis Shihanga won Gold and Zacharia Barie won Silver in the 10,000 metres at the Brisbane Games in 1982.
The Queen’s Baton Relay and the Commonwealth Games have partnered with Unicef to campaign for an end to violence against children during the lead up to the 2014 Commonealth Games. Two Tanzanian boys, 15 year old Abu Bakar Sinde and 15 year old Hamza Hussein, gave their own moving personal testimonies about the devastating effect of violence against children. Abu Baker Sinde also signed a special Baton Book that is accompanying the Queen’s Baton on its journey round the Commonwealth. A child from each Commonwealth country is invited to write a message in the book: Abu Baker was the chosen one from Tanzania.
The Baton’s Commonwealth wide journey will end back in the UK in time for the Opening Ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games on 23 July. A message from The Queen is embedded in the Baton and will be read out at the Opening Ceremony.