Queen’s Baton Relay enters the Kingdom

Queen’s Baton Relay enters the Kingdom

Maseru – WITH rain clouds hovering menacingly, the chill of hail and snow gnawing at the bones, the Queen’s Baton Relay knew its global tour had brought it to the Mountain Kingdom.
Every four years, the baton for the Commonwealth Games goes on grand journey of the Commonwealth’s 72 member nations.

This time the relay will encompass 388 days and a distance of roughly 322,000 kilometres before reaching the Gold Coast in Australia — the host for the 2018 Games.
The countdown was started in March by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in England and, on an icy Thursday afternoon, her baton arrived in Lesotho at his Majesty King Letsie III’s palace.

And, as gathered guests did their best to brave the elements, King Letsie III conveyed his joy as he welcomed the relay to Lesotho.
“We are delighted to get an opportunity to yet again receive the baton in Lesotho while it is on a relay among the Commonwealth member states to its destination (Australia) where the 21st Commonwealth Games will be held in April 2018,” his Majesty said.

President of Commonwealth Games Federations (CGF) Louise Martin was equally excited the baton had arrived in the country. Martin said the Queen’s Baton Relay was a “message from her Majesty made to inspire future athletes of the Commonwealth Games”.
“The message inside the baton is that athletes should believe in their selves, be true to their selves and prepare for the Commonwealth Games in order to compete together as the Commonwealth family,” he added.

To make the Lesotho leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay a success, sponsors such as UNICEF, Bashoeshoe Pele Car Rental, Lesotho Flour Mills, Vodacom Lesotho, Avani Maseru and KFC pitched in.

Vodacom’s executive head of corporate affairs, Tšepo Ntaopane, said the telecommunications giant was thrilled to contribute to the occasion’s fruition.
“We contributed to the preparations in terms of the security, the coordination of volunteers as well as coordinating with the villages to pass the message of the relay,” he said.
“We are indeed honoured that we took part in the baton’s route. We are a proud media partner as well as communications partner of the national Olympic game as well as the Commonwealth Games,” Ntaopane added.

“What we do is assist with technology so that the media can broadcast the event while it is happening and we help the police services via communication. As a communications company, what we had to do was to provide the means of communications including the uploading of pictures as the event was happening so that the Queen’s Baton Relay team can be able to report and share the events internationally.”

Ntaopane said Vodacom’s involvement was part of its mission to “change lives”.
“If it means that this baton’s relay signifies the development of a Mosotho child and provide a possibility that we can have athletes earn their living through sports and provide a platform for a good life for Basotho children, we will always use our technology to develop the nation,” he said.

After leaving the King’s palace the baton began a mini tour of Lesotho going to Mafeteng, passing through Malealea Lodge and visiting several villages such as ‘Mantšebo, much to the delight of residents.

“I am very happy; I’ve never seen something like this in this village ever before, said Mapuleng Thamae, a resident of Ha Ramatšiliso, where the Baton visited on its way to Malealea.
“I have 52 years living in this village but I have never seen something so beautiful like this that unites Basotho in such a joyful way. I wish it could visit us often because it brought joy to us. We are together and happy and I wish we can live like this every day.”

Lesotho was the 17th country to host the Queen’s Baton Relay.
The baton departed for neighbouring South Africa on Monday after completing its three-day visit to the country, a unique privilege because Lesotho is the only African country which will host the baton for three days.

All other 16 African nations in the Commonwealth will have two days of festivities.
The Commonwealth Games begin on April 4, 2018.

Mohloai Mpesi

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