On Thursday 27th December 2012, thirty eight cyclists from various parts of The Gambia including the Greater Banjul Area have literally pedal to Basse, a provincial town about 360 kilometres east of the capital, Banjul. The cyclists are in Basse for a three-day conference of the Majlis Khuddamul Ahmadiyya The Gambia (MKATG) – male youth organisation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at at Nasir Ahmadiyya Senior Secondary School in Mansajang.
The cyclists arrived in Basse to a tumultuous welcome. Men, women, children and the elderly all rushed to the high to catch a sight of a string of cyclists covering a distance of about three hundred metres in length under police escort.
“This is the first of its kind in the history of Basse. It is so amazing to see young people like these to cycle all this distance just to earn the pleasure of Allah,” an old man said, while admitting that the desire to do so must have been born from a strong motivation to succeed.
A radio commentator in the town of Basse observed that sports of this nature are unprecedented.
“We have cycle all the way not to show our power and strength but to show that we are ready to do whatever we can for the sake of our religion (Islam) and in honour of its holy founder Muhammad Mustapha, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,” one of the cyclists said. “We are grateful to Allah the Almighty for enabling us to pedal all the way and reach here safely. It was a wonderful experience and we glorify Him for that,” he added.
Speaking later at the official opening session of the conference, Mr. Tahir Ahmad Touray, President of the youth organisation described the cyclists as patriots who are ready to offer every sacrifice for the sake of their religion and country as embedded in their pledge.
Meanwhile, Ahmadiyya youth association is composed of Ahmadi youth (males) between the ages of 15 and 40. And according to the organisers of the event, “The objective of the conference is to train its members on true Islamic values; to induce in them the love for the best of mankind, Muhammad Mustapha (SAW) and to inculcate in them the spirit of love and service to their country.
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are considered non-Muslims by orthodox Muslims and therefore continue to face persecution in many countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.