Few weeks ago, we had the first leg of this interview with Olubayode Treasures-Olawunmi, the person who attempted to break the Guinness World Record of Read Aloud Marathon where he did a total of 122 hours. In this interview, he tells us of his experience while seeking for a sponsor for his quest, the challenges he went through during the 5 days reading at the GTRead Library, Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos and his future projects. Herein is the excerpt-
PDC: Everyone is waiting for the response of Guinness World Record, if they fail to send you the certificate or if they do not acknowledge what you have done what will be the next step?
BTO: I will go to London with my crew, I will find a library close to GWR. So that all the international media can see that Africans do it. Africans means business.
PDC: Where you getting the same buzz from Nigeria media as much as you got from the International Media?
BTO: We got support from all the different media houses in Nigeria- television, radio, online and print- I wish it is akin to what is done for celebrities as this speaks directly to the culture. I need the support of the celebrities so that we can both co-influence our followers. Imagine if our pop stars use their social media handles to show that they read, it will change the mindset of a lot of people. I would initiate programmes like- Reading with the Stars- this is to show the youths that pop stars also read.
PDC: We often believe that African literature emerged out of rhetoric, do you believe this is one of the problems affecting the reading culture in Nigeria?
BTO: I call it truth and reality; the time spent at work and in transit do not allow people to read. There are a lot of unemployed people after graduating they had to take up menial jobs in order to survive. This is equally discouraging to others. There is no incentive for reading in this part of the world- this is the reality. However, in order to arrive at our desired point in life, we need to read and that is the truth.
PDC: You read books to your children, how important is bedtime stories to educating children and developing their interest in literature?
BTO: I don’t downplay the role of parents in the development of their children. The parents are the first role model to the children. When your children see you reading, it interests them and when you read to them, you start to model them. If they pick up that habit, it will be good for their development.
I encourage people to be deliberate in raising their children; whatever you want your children to know is what you should share with them. Asides reading to them, create stories that will engage them. Children must not be able to judge their parents through their weaknesses.
PDC: How do you intend to manage stardom because the person known to a lot of people earlier is different person that we can see now?
BTO: Am I a star? I am a loyal friend; I see myself as the same Bayode, I remain Bayode to everyone. I am asking for grace so that I won’t be carried away by fame. My prayer is that the Lord should increase my humility and wisdom at every point in time.
PDC: What are the next set of projects that you intend to embark upon?
BTO: One of the projects is Reading Relay, we would do it with icons across all spheres of human endeavors. We would be reading a single copy of the book and it is also a Guinness World Record attempt. It will show the world that Africans read and that we would discover everything that is hidden in a book.
PDC: What’s your Personal Social Responsibility?
BTO: I encourage students to read, this is tagged “lead to read”. The dream is to go across Africa from school to school. I go alone to school and I go there with other reader so that they can “read to lead” in the future.
PDC: What do you have to tell others who are interested in attempting a Guinness World Record?
BTO: Go for Gold! Tell the world that Africans can do anything! We have the brain, strength; capacity and capability to achieve lofty heights.
PDC: What was the most challenging part of the Read Aloud Marathon?
BTO: My tongue was the challenge; there were lacerations- my teeth were cutting my tongue. I was going through pains. It was not about the long hours of sitting or losing sleep but my freedom. I felt caged for the 5 days but it was worth the prize. This scripture kept me going, “for the joy set before him, he endured the cross.”
PDC: What do you have to say with brand encouraging people to do novel things?
BTO: The brands are hypocrites; they don’t celebrate academic excellence but spend billions on entertainment, reality TV shows and celebrities’ events. I wrote to various organizations to support me on this project but nothing happened for a long time before GTBank came on board.
PDC: What is the future of reading in Nigeria?
BTO: It is getting better but we need to play our individual roles. In order to hasten this journey, we need to incentivize reading. Best students in West African Secondary School Students among others should be celebrated so there would be a drive in students to excel. We are in the days of materialism and we need to bait the hook to catch the fish. Get the best out of people by attaching a reward.
PDC: Do writers just write for prizes or they write to reflect the society which is expected of literature?
BTO: Not all writers write for prizes. However, excellence must reflect in the writing of books. Some authors write to express themselves to contribute to the literary scene of Nigeria. Some of them are very passionate about their writings. What we need to improve upon is the writing of biographies, we need to have the knowledge of avoiding the same failure experienced by successful people and the society can advance.
PDC: Describe yourself in 3 words?
BTO: I am cool, thoughtful and resilient