Bayode Olawunmi-Treasures, a Guinness Book of Record holder, has commenced another edition of the “Read Aloud contest”, which will run for 480 hours, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 21.
Olawunmi-Treasures, the Chief Executive Officer of I Read Afrika Foundation, in a statement on Sunday, said the 2021 edition of the contest is aimed at spurring reading culture in children through building functional libraries across the federation.
He said the availability of functional libraries across the 36 states of the nation and the Federal Capital Territory goes a long way in encouraging the youths and children generally to read.
“This contest holds for 20 days from Wednesday, 1st December 2021, to Monday, 20th December 2021, at the Herbert Macaulay Library at Yaba, Lagos State.
“This year 2021, after my numerous engagements with stakeholders during the pandemic, I identified one of the challenges mitigating people, especially children and young adults, from reading.
“The feedback is an absence of public libraries within walking distances. This feedback, although scathing, ultimately inspired me to hold a sophomore attempt for a Guinness World Record.
“This time, five Nigerians: Maryam Abba Sadu from Borno State, Zainab Wakil Mohammed, also from Borno State, Doubra Yeri from Bayelsa State, Preciouslight Ukachi from Imo State and Olawunmi-Treasures from Ogun state are in the context.
“All drawn from different geo-political regions in the country will attempt to read for 480 hours in the Longest Marathon Read Aloud category,” he said.
Olawunmi-Treasures said this is a bid to convincingly eclipse the current record of 365 hours and 39 seconds set in the Dominican Republic which has stood since July, 2001.
He said the theme for the contest is “Read2Build” which is organised by his non-profit organisation, I Read Afrika Foundation, in partnership with the Lagos State Government.
According to him, this is also geared towards receiving donations and crowdfunding from well-meaning individuals, organisations and government which will be used to build more well-equipped public libraries across Nigeria.
He noted that the rural areas where such facilities are lacking will be prioritised.
“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.
“I believe a library should be within walking distance to a reader’s residence.
“This informs my desire to raise N500 million for the first phase of this project which is targeted at building 20 functional libraries.
“Starting in the areas where this is 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,” he said.
Olawunmi-Treasures set out to make the reading culture more attractive and appealing, especially to the younger generation.
So in 2018, he then decided 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, Olawunmi-Treasures said: “The major goal for me is not 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.”