Nigeria is a country that has produced great writers, most importantly, the first African Nobel Prize winner in Literature. However, the country does not reflect of a society that values reading culture. One man, Olubayode (Bayode) Treasures-Olawunmi took the challenge of reading for over 120 hours with the aim of breaking the Guinness World Record for the Longest Marathon Reading Aloud. He also set out to rekindle the interest in reading in the country.
Bayode surpassed the previous record of 113 hours 15 minutes that was formerly held by Deepak Sharma Bajaan of India, which stood since 2008. Bayode started reading on Monday and stopped on Saturday, logging in 120 hours, setting a new record.
Bayode read with only two hours break a day. The event coincided with World Book Day and was sponsored by both the Lagos State Government and Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank) through its GTBank YouREAD Initiative, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project launched in 2017 to revive the reading culture in the country.
Nigerians were invited to watch the reading which took place at the Herbert Macaulay Library. Bayode read 17 books, including books from Nigerian authors such as Toni Kan’s The Carnivorous City, Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s Independence, Leye Adenle’s Easy Motion Tourist, Elnathan John’s Born on a Tuesday amongst others.
The event comes some few weeks after Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie was asked about the existence of bookshops in Nigeria. The question led to a lot of social media buzz. Despite holding one of the biggest book festivals, the Ake Arts and Book Festival, the poor reading culture in the country is still a big issue.