The Queen’s Baton Relay returns to The Gambia as part of a 10-week tour through Africa

The Queen’s Baton Relay will travel through The Gambia for the first time in nearly 12 years. President Adama Barrow is slated to be one of the baton bearers.

01/01/2020 Adama Barrow, president of The Gambia

The Gambia is preparing to welcome the Queen’s Baton to its soil next week for the first time in nearly 12 years. It has been confirmed that the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, will run with the Queen’s Baton during the three days it is in the country.

This represents a major shift for the small, West African country that once pulled out of the Commonwealth in October 2013 under former President Yahya Jammeh. At the time, the government of The Gambia released a statement that declared it had “decided that The Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism.”

The Commonwealth of Nations defines itself as “a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries.” However, it is generally seen as a political alliance meant to maintain Great Britain’s sphere of influence in its former colonies.

The Commonwealth Games have often been criticized as a celebration of Great Britain’s former imperial might. During the last edition of the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast (Australia), aboriginal groups protested the Games by nicknaming them the “Stolenwealth Games” due to the historic treatment of aboriginal peoples during and after Australia’s time as a British colony.

Nonetheless, by the start of the 2018 Games, The Gambia had reversed its position on the Commonwealth, rejoining the organization in February 2018, and thus sent a small delegation of six athletes to participate Down Under.

The Gambia’s decision to rejoin the Commonwealth under its current President, Adama Barrow, came too late for the country to be included in the international leg of the 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay. However, the country is now preparing itself to receive the Queen’s Baton on its way to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

According to the communications consultant for The Gambia National Olympic Committee, Muhammed L. Saidykhan, “the baton is expected to arrive in the Gambia on October 19th 2021 and already the Olympic house is looking forward to an exciting and eventful visit with [a] series of engagements and activities that involves the President of The Gambia running with the baton, and of course touring major settlements in Banjul, Kanifing Municipality and West Coast Region.”

He also stated that the mayors of Banjul and Kanifing would participate as baton bearers during the relay, with students and athletes making up the remaining baton bearers during the relay in The Gambia.

The Queen’s Baton will also visit the British Embassy and Ministry of Youth and Sport as part of the relay.

Queen's Baton Relay map (Birmingham 2022)
Queen's Baton Relay map (Birmingham 2022)

The Queen’s Baton is scheduled to begin its tour of the African continent on October 16 in Nigeria. The Queen’s Baton will spend just over 10 weeks in the continent before traveling to South Asia.

In total, the Queen’s Baton is scheduled to travel around 140,000 kilometers, visit 72 countries and territories, and spend 269 days on the road before reaching Alexander Stadium in time to play its role in the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.