Soweto’s streets were brought to a standstill, as the blue double-decker bus carrying the Queen’s Baton travelled through the township.
The Queen’s Baton Relay arrived in Johannesburg on Monday, 10th February 2014 on the last leg of its African tour. It spent five days in South Africa travelling through different municipalities.
The Queen’s Baton is similar to the Olympic torch relay, the Queen’s Baton Relay travels around the world prior to the Commonwealth Games. The Games will take place in Glasgow, Scotland later in July where Team South Africa will participate. Once the Baton touched down at the OR Tambo Airport, it travelled on the bus with the athletes on board to its first stop being the Apartheid Museum.
At the City of Joburg’s Orlando West swimming pool, the baton was met with songs and jubilations from local children, and some from the Orlando High School. So excited, they each posed for photographs holding the historic Queen’s Baton.
South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) President Gideon Sam told children that by holding the Baton, they were making history for themselves.
“You will see during the Commonwealth Games, when the Queen opens the Baton, it will be the very same Baton that you have touched right here in Soweto,” said Sam.
The relay left Buckingham Palace in London on 9 October, after the Queen Elizabeth had placed a message to the Commonwealth inside the baton. The message inside is unreadable until the opening ceremony of the games in Glasgow on 23 July, when the Queen will then read the message.
British High Commissioner Judith McGregor told the kids that South Africa was a great sport nation.
“This Baton has come to Soweto, because you are part of the Commonwealth and a great sport nation. Inside this Baton is the message from the queen herself,” said McGregor.
The Baton will visit 70 nations over 288 days, covering about 190 000 kilometers on its way to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.