Many years ago, Bayode Olawunmi-Treasures set out to make the reading culture more attractive and appealing especially to the younger generation. So in 2018, he then decide to pull off an audacious attempt at the Guinness World Record for “The Longest Reading Marathon”.
Standing in his way was the record then held by Nepal’s Deepak Sharma’s – 113 hours, 15 minutes.
For over 120 hours, spanning five days – he read aloud non-stop! His incredible feat inspired millions of people and it saw a spike in public reading, book clubs and literary-related events.
Speaking on his ambitious quest, Bayode asserts, “the major goal for me isn’t so much breaking the Guinness records; it is to make reading great again. I could have chosen to dance or sing my way into the record books but I chose this path so that when people ask what I did to break the record, it would be said that I did so through reading.”
This year 2021, after his numerous engagements with stakeholders during the pandemic, he identified one of the challenges mitigating people, especially children and young adults from reading – the absence of public libraries within walking distances. This feedback, although scathing, ultimately inspired him to hold a sophomore attempt for a Guinness World Record.
This time, five Nigerians: Maryam Abba Sadu – Borno State, Zainab Wakil Mohammed – Borno State, Doubra Yeri – Bayelsa State, Preciouslight Ukachi – Imo State and Treasures-Olawunmi Bayode – Ogun State, drawn from different geo-political regions in the country will attempt to read for 480 hours in the Longest Marathon Read Aloud By A Team category – a bid to convincingly eclipse the current record of 365 hours and 39 seconds set in Dominican Republic which has stood since July, 2001.
Read2Build, pioneered by his non-profit organization, iRead Afrika Foundation in partnership with the Lagos State Government, is also geared towards receiving donations and crowdfunding from well-meaning individuals, organizations and government which will be used to build more well-equipped public libraries across Nigeria – especially in the rural areas where such facilities are lacking.
iRead Afrika Foundation posits that libraries are social spaces that are very important to every community; where children, youths and adults can go into, in order to add value to their lives, for self-development and nation-building. It is a place that should be made available and accessible to everyone without having to commute too far away from their location.
They believe a library should be within walking-distance to a reader’s residence.
This informs their desire to raise five hundred million naira (N500,000,000) for the first phase of this project which is targeted at building 20 functional libraries, starting in the areas where there are most needed.
In each of the libraries, there would be a Legacy Wall where the names of those who donated to this cause and volunteered for this event will be written and honoured for posterity.
This attempt holds for 20 days from Wednesday, 1 December 2021 to Tuesday, 21 December 2021 at the Herbert Macaulay Library (You Read) at 338 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos State.
The event will be livestreamed non-stop for those who desire cannot be there physically.
There will also be book sales, a media hub for conversations, guest readers and other side attractions. The event is open to everyone as long as you follow the COVID-19 protocols of masking up, safe distancing and hand washing.
For donations, sponsorship, special guest appearances and other inquiries email: [email protected]