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Inside Nigeria’s 2023 Guinness World Record obsession

Since Hilda Baci succeeded at her attempt to become a Guinness World Record holder after cooking for over 100 hours, many other Nigerians have made…

Since Hilda Baci succeeded at her attempt to become a Guinness World Record holder after cooking for over 100 hours, many other Nigerians have made it their dying wish to also break a record and have their names in the book. In this feature, Daily Trust Saturday chronicles attempts by Nigerians to become world record holders.

Since 1955, Guinness World Records have recognised individuals who accomplished extraordinary things throughout the world. Many Nigerians, including Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Ayo Balogun, Mfon Udoh, Divine Ikubor, Lucy Ejike and others, have succeeded in placing their names in the Guinness World Records.

In May 2023, Hilda Baci embarked on an extraordinary cooking marathon, where she tirelessly cooked for 93 hours and 11 minutes. Her victory garnered significant media attention, which turned her into a celebrity chef.

Inspired by her success, many young Nigerians flooded the Guinness World Records with applications, hoping to break records of their own.

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Successful attempts

Before Hilda’s win in May, a Nigerian student, Philip Solomon emerged as the GWR record holder for the most skips on one foot in 30 seconds. According to the Guinness World Records website, Solomon accomplished 153 skips in 30 seconds on one foot on January 24, 2023 in Akure, Nigeria.

In the process, the 17-year-old Ondo State student broke Rasel Islam of Bangladesh’s previous record of 145. It is worth mentioning that Solomon’s success was officially certified by the organisation four months after his attempt.

Actor, businessman and creator of Blaqk Stereo Music Group (BSMG), Hawwal Ogungbadero, along with a group of 29 other musicians, broke the record for the longest recording marathon, clocking at 40 hours and 19 minutes, which earned them a spot in the Guinness World Records.

The GWR noted that Emmanuel organised the event to help out his community’s local artists and provide them with a stage on which to showcase their works. A total of 15 musicians gave performances during the endeavour.

There’s also Tonye Solomon who was declared the GWR record holder for most steps climbed on a ladder while balancing a football on the head.

On the GWR official website, it was reported that Tonye took on the challenge after friends had doubted his story about walking 60 km (37 mi) with a football on his head from Amassoma to Yenagoa.

Tonye then went on to set a world record for the most steps ascended on a ladder while balancing a football on his head. He accomplished the amazing feat in August 2023 by skilfully managing to hold control of the ball on his head while ascending 150 stairs to the summit of a 250-foot (76-meter) radio mast.

Tonye said to the GWR that he intended to break this record in order to push himself and encourage others to achieve great things. He told them that he trained for it for two months, putting in all of his spare time to practise until he felt certain he would pass.

The GWR also reported that Tonye appeared unaffected by the steep slope during the record attempt, using just 12.5 minutes to finish the climb.

Tonye is a member of Chukwuebuka Ezugha’s Chukwuebuka Freestyle Academy, which has turned out record-breaking artistes including Kid Eche, Vincent Okezie, Victor Richard Kipo, and Confidence Kipo.

Some of their Guinness World Records achievements include: Kid Eche who set the record with the fastest time of 7 minutes and 46 seconds to complete 1000 football touches while holding a ball in the air and the record for the most consecutive football touches in a minute (133) while balancing a football on his head.

Confidence Kipo has the most knee transfers of a football spun on the finger in one minute – 31. Victor Richard Kipo and Chukwuebuka Ezugha have the most consecutive football passes (252) between the head and soles (a team of two).

Helen Williams was also recently declared a record holder of the world’s longest handmade wig, measuring 351.28 metres (1,152 ft 5 in). The GWR stated that Helen made the wig in 11 days for over N2million.

She constructed the hairpiece with 1,000 bundles of hair, 12 cans of hair spray, 35 tubes of hair adhesive, and 6,250 hair clips after making the underlay with wig-cap netting and black fabric affixed to a bicycle helmet.

Helen mentioned to the GWR that she had a hard time getting the materials for the wig. She said, “Finding the materials to make the longest wig was not an easy task. My experience as a wigmaker helped a lot.”

She also noted that she got tired at some point, but thanks to the support of friends and family that enabled them to complete the challenge.

Unsuccessful attempts

While some attempts were recognised by the GWR, some were considered unsuccessful and are yet to be validated by the agency.

The very first attempt after Hilda’s was that of Adedamilola Adeparusi, also known as Chef Dammy. She embarked on her own culinary journey, a 150-hour cook-a-thon, with the aim of securing a spot in the Guinness World Records.

Chef Dammy faced a lot of backlash on the social media as many claimed that she wasn’t original and that her cook-a-thon lacked a lot of preparedness. According to social media users, they were instances where Chef Dammy had run out of gas, she also stopped cooking at some point to select beans.

An X user who was tweeting live from the event also mentioned how people were being charged a fare of N1,000 to eat the food that had been prepared by Dammy.

During her marathon, Dammy received support from her church, where her pastor, Adegoke Jeremiah, also known as the Billionaire Dollar Prophet, played a crucial role.  However, at the end of the cook-a-thon, Chef Dammy stated that her intention was not to compete with Hilda but to test her own abilities.

Dammy said she cooked for 120 hours, but it was impossible to confirm this because she occasionally turned off the live feed during the competition. Additionally, before beginning her competition, Dammy did not obtain authorisation from the Guinness World Record.

Another young woman from Ondo State, Chef Deo, sought to break Hilda’s record.  She revealed that she had informed the GWR of her intention and received the green light before commencing the cook-a-thon. On July 7, Deo completed the challenge of cooking for 150 hours. However, there was no official recognition from the Guinness World Records.

In Oyo State, another chef, Prince Temitope Adebayo, attempted to break a world record with a 140-hour cook-a-thon. Tope Maggie embarked on his journey for the lengthiest cooking marathon on November 9, 2023.

In June, ahead of the commencement of the cook-a-thon, Tope Maggie shared that his application to surpass the cooking record had been accepted. At that time, he disclosed his original intention to cook for 140 hours and 20 minutes. Nevertheless, spurred by Alan Fisher surpassing Hilda Baci’s record, Tope Maggie opted to elevate his challenge to an impressive 200 hours.

Oyo Affairs on the X platform (formerly twitter) later reported that Chef Maggie finished his 200-hour cook-a-thon, which ended on November 18, 2023. Tope, however, is presently waiting on the GWR to validate his record before he can celebrate and offer congrats for his accomplishment.

In addition, a Nigerian visual artist, Lola Mewu tried to break the record for the longest painting marathon set by the Guinness World Records. On October 28, 2023, Lola started her challenging journey at the Safe House, Lagos. Her aim was to beat the previous record of 60 hours, which was set in 2013 by Belgian-Canadian artist Roland Palmaerts.

Lola’s quest to break the record attracted support and admirers from around the country. The painting marathon officially began on October 28 at 6:30 pm. In order to meet the requirements of the GWR, Lola produced a number of appealing artistic pieces titled, “One Touch,” “Pemi Pada Owonromi,” and “Ejire Ara Isokun.”

Lola surpassed reaching a mark of 72hours at 7 pm on October 31, 2023. She may be a record holder, but the GWR has not yet confirmed this.

In Akwa Ibom State, John Obot took up the challenge to become a record holder for the longest marathon read-aloud event. Obot reportedly achieved a time of 145 hours, surpassing the previous record of 124 hours set by the Indian Rysbai Isakov.

Obot began reading on September 12, 2023 at Letters House, Uyo in Akwa Ibom State. In attendance at the ‘Readmania’ event were the deputy governor of the state, Akon Eyakenyi and the secretary to the state government, Enobong Uwah.

After hitting the 145-hour mark in the early hours of September 18, 2023, Obot said he would continue reading until 10 pm and thanked everyone there for their support. The GWR, however, is yet to confirm Obot as a record holder.

Accidents and injuries

For some of these persons, a great fortune and fame came their way after they went viral on the social media. However, some suffered accidents and had terrible experiences in their quests to become record holders.

Most recently is the case of the Obafemi Awolowo University student, Subair Enitan, who was admitted to the hospital on November 27 after completing 58 hours of hand wash-a-thon.

After registering for the challenge with Guinness World Records in June, the 21-year-old was scheduled to break the record for the longest hand cloth washing by an individual.

The young woman began her task on November 24 at the Student Union Building Motor Park on the university campus with thousands of students cheering her. Enitan finished the 58-hour shift at midnight on Monday, after which she was taken to the institution’s clinic for a medical check.

In a BBC interview, Tembu Ebere mentioned that he went blind after attempting to cry for a complete week to break the GWR ‘cry-a-thon’ record.  He mentioned that he was partially blind for 45 minutes and also experienced a swollen face, puffy eyes and headaches after crying.

However, unlike many who await a confirmation from GWR, Ebere said his attempt wouldn’t be recognised as he didn’t follow due process and apply to the organisation.

In an attempt to break the record by performing a 72-hour massage, a female masseuse Joyce Ijeoma passed out. She began on July 1, 2023, hoping to complete the challenge. However, the masseuse fainted during one of her sessions after supposedly completing 50 hours. In a viral video, her assistant was seen catching her as she slumped on her knees while massaging.

The previous world record was achieved in 2015 by Alastair Galpin in South Kalimantan, Indonesia.  Galpin presently holds the record for the longest full-body massage, lasting 25 hours and 4 minutes.

GWR’s response

Following the number of attempts that came out of the country, the Guinness World Records earlier put out a statement for Nigerians to slow down with their applications and attempts to break records. The tweet reads, “Please enough of the record-a-thons.”

To follow up, the GWR also put out another statement via their X platform noting, “A polite reminder that you should probably have your world record title confirmed by our team before attempting it.”

This tweet comes after Joyce Ijeoma suffered a fainting experience while trying to break the longest hour for a massage record.

Speaking on the GWR panic in Nigeria, a GWR representative said to the BBC, “To avoid disappointment, it is important to ensure that what you want to attempt is a valid record title and that you understand the guidelines.”

She also stated that the agency had witnessed an increase in applications from Nigerians, but she could not confirm whether the amount of tries from one country was an all-time record.