John Obot, a professional teacher, is reading from a variety of books – mostly Nigerian literature – in a small hall in a hotel in Uyo where several people have been stopping by to show solidarity.
Mr Obot, from Akwa Ibom State, South-south Nigeria, has done over 50 hours as of Monday night. He started on 9 September and is expected to read for six days.
He is hoping to reach 145 hours on 17 September to beat a previous record of 124 hours set in September 2022 by a Kyrgyzstan, Rysbai Isakov, in Bursa, Turkey.
Mr Obot, a professional teacher, is reading from a variety of books – mostly Nigerian literature – in a small hall in a hotel in Uyo where several people have been stopping by to show solidarity.
The Akwa Ibom First Lady Patience Eno, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Ini Ememobong, a House of Representatives member from the state, Clement Jimbo, and the Chairperson of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in the state, Amos Etuk, are among the dignitaries who have visited the hotel to witness the reading.
Mrs Eno reportedly sat for over 20 minutes to listen as Mr Obot read aloud Echoes of The Traditional Society written by a renowned Nigerian journalist, Akpandem James.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe; Civil War Child by Nestor Udoh; Ibibio Nation: History and Culture by Oto-Obong Uwah; Eze Goes to School by Michael Crowder and Onuora Nzekwu; and Animal Farm by George Orwell are among the books Mr Obot has read aloud so far.
“In Ibibio culture, when a man dies, his wife is expected to mourn him for three months; the mourning period could extend to six months if the man was a prominent man, like a chief.
“Also, in the traditional Ibibio practice, widows were expected to choose a husband from among the brothers or half-brothers of the late spouse (a process known as únyjmmé owo), This decision to involve her in a second marriage within the family was especially so, if the late husband’s family deemed her to have been of good and exemplary behaviour as a wife and mother. This was also to continue the family heritage and to confirm that the woman was married to the entire family and not necessarily to the late husband alone,” Mr Obot read from the Ibibio Nation: History and Culture by Oto-Obong Uwah.
The marathoner said, before its commencement, that the exercise was meant “to draw attention to the fast declining reading culture, especially among Nigerian youths, and as a way of encouraging authors to continue their art of writing.”
A psychotherapist, Udeme Okono, described Mr Obot’s attempt at breaking the world record as an “audacious move”.
Inspired by the Nigerian chef Hilda Baci’s new world record for the longest cooking marathon, Many Nigerian youths have been making attempts at setting or breaking world records in different spheres of life.
Guinness World Records at some point said they had received some 1,500 applications from Nigerians in just two months.
Before Ms Baci, there was 15-year-old Vincent Okezie, a secondary school student, who had set four Guinness World Records in 2022.
The teenager told PREMIUM TIMES that he felt rejected because Nigerians did not celebrate his achievements the way they did when Ms Baci set her world record.
“I feel like my country has rejected me. Also, I feel not recognised. I asked myself if it were only women that are usually recognised in Nigeria because even though other boys won Guinness World Records in my academy, nobody celebrated them or recognised them,” he said.