I am going to suspend my usual rant before every interview published here and just prepare your mind for this awesomely long journey. I did a proper interview for this one and it was beyond refreshing to meet the man that stayed 18 months in his mother’s belly who did not give up in the face of hallucination and went on to become the man to break the Guinness World Record. Enjoy.
Who is Bayode Treasures-Olawunmi? We would like to know you from the very beginning. Bayode Treasures-Olawunmi is the first born in the family of five, a very humble background, humble family, not poor and not rich; because while growing up there were other families poorer than we were. We were also not rich because growing up, I remember that we were living in a room; my mother, my father, five children and four cousins. At times, we were twelve or fourteen in a room. Feeding was not a problem because my parents were hardworking but of course it was not enough we had to support by helping to hawk stuff like; shoes, vegetables, fruits, groundnuts, fufu, pepper and coco-yam. I went to Arowosegbe Primary School, Alakuko. A public school of course, I remember the first year I was in school, I couldn’t be registered because my hand couldn’t touch my ear. I was not rejected but also not admitted. The following year, the same happened but my mom fought her way through and was admitted to the school. Primary 1, I failed because what was school? I just go to play but the teacher insisted that “I was just a kid as times goes on he will catch up”. I started reading books in primary 4. I prayed to God to teach me how to read and I just started reading the following term. I attended Comprehensive High School, Agidi, Alapere, Ketu (still a public school). There was nobody to look up to so I worked at a soap making company; power for a year. (1996-1997) I proceeded to a plastic producing company until a friend discussed school. I went to Ibadan Poly but it was too late so we proceeded to Ire Poly instead of going back to Lagos. Out of three friends, I was the only qualified candidate. I had my Pre-ND then proceeded to ND1, I wanted to go to the university so I did not put my mind on it. I had a carryover in a course which I did not register but just bought the text book for future reference and was automatically registered for the course. I had to forfeit LASU processing because the carryover wasted my time, I proceeded with the HND but promised myself to do better. I wrote 3.73 in my room on the first day. First semester, I had strong upper credit. Unfortunately, second semester I met that beautiful woman in school and she distracted me a lot. I couldn’t read or concentrate. (2002) I couldn’t do anything but think about her, my GPA dropped that semester. I told myself from 1999 that anybody I will say ‘I love you’ to will be my wife. I had to run away from school to read somewhere but after I proposed to her which she disregarded at first. I had big dreams but did not practice accounting after school. I served in Cross River state. I worked in an auditing firm in VI for six months and discovered that I am bigger than the company which I left to start my company till last month when things took a new turn. I am a father of 3, got married in 2008 to the same woman.
What is the story behind you going for Guinness World Records? How did you even conceptualize it? I am a believer and I believe God can use me for anything. What drove me to it was that I wanted a platform and I want to have a voice to speak. I know that there is something in me that needs to come out that people need to know about. Like my wife will say, “Me, I know you but the world needs to know about you” . She was pushing and I had this passion about education because I read a lot. (I love reading). I understand that the reading culture is going down the drain whereas people go for music, go for shows or engage in yahoo yahoo. Those things gets to my nerve because we can’t build a future through that. We can’t get to anywhere via that, we can’t achieve anything. Of course, music is good, I do music too (I am a chorister in my church) but I have never seen a country built on the back of music, I have never seen one. People say of course Las Vegas was built on entertainment, yes, Las Vegas but trust me in Las Vegas, education is paramount. I said, let me stop complaining, let me do something about this thing. I went into research about GWR; education. I saw the former world record holder shivering but still reading. I told myself I could do it. His record was 113 hours 15 minutes. I decided to do 120 hours. I applied to GWR waited for 12 weeks for approval. When the approval came, I had no reference for practice. I searched for things to do to sleep but the feedback was terrifying (all negative). I went into it blind but when Gtbank approached me after going everywhere for sponsors. I did a trial run which lasted for 96 hours which was streamed live.
What were the challenges you faced trying to birth this reality? Getting sponsorship was crazy, there was no encouragement until I met Multipro and they encouraged me (not really support) then GTbank came onboard. I also want to use this medium to talk to brands out there. We are complaining that our education is bad yet we are not putting money in that education, who will right the wrong? We should not be hypocrite who can put millions in BBN, concerts but when it comes to education we put peanuts or nothing at all. In the long run, brands will draw up their staff from the education they are not supporting. If we have quality education and good graduates, you won’t spend money on training staff because they are ready made. They should put money into education. They should balance it, if you put 10 billion in music put 500,000 Naira in education. What I went through was suicidal because at a time, I was hallucinating. I had to be tracing with my fingers because letters were scrolling. My vision was blurred, my tongue was bleeding and I am still feeling the pain now. While talking, my teeth was cutting my tongue but I had to continue even when my teeth was cutting the same spot. I dealt with back pain, neck pain and vocal cord pressure. I couldn’t eat, I lost taste for food. I went to the rest room thrice in those six days, had my bathe twice. The experience was bad but worth it. At a point in time I wanted to give up but a scripture came to me “but for the joy set before him he endured the cross”. That scripture made me not to give up.
At a point in time I wanted to give up but a scripture came to me “but for the joy set before him he endured the cross”
How did you come about the books you read in the competition? Any personal favourite? I had my own books but because GTbank was a sponsor, they had their publishers as customers and also wanted to promote their works, they gave me books to read. Of course at a point in time, I exhausted the books, I had to go to the library to pick books. I brought four books from my own end, I bought books from some of my church authors. I was also out to promote African authors but by the fourth day, I couldn’t see properly so I had to look for books with big print and there was no African books like that. I love Toni Kan’s book; the carnivorous city also Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle. It is a fantastic book. Also, Norman Vincent Peale’s book; The Power of Plus Factor. I put that book in there for a reason. I knew along the line that I would be tired, when I was reading that book, I was actually encouraging myself, I was reading to myself not to the people. I was the plus factor because it is only the plus factor that could have pushed me to the end. I was reading that to motivate myself. I remember all the stories I read.
How do you think growing up affected everything you are now? Growing up, I don’t know how but kind of, I knew I was going to be great in my mind. I just knew that there was something different about me. Of course, I spent 18 months in mom’s womb, so I knew there was something great there. I always think big. I think big things. My parents will ask, “Are you crazy?” If they are mentioning 10 million, I am mentioning 1 billion. I tell them everything is possible if you put your mind to it. Growing up, there was no real influence, I don’t know where it came from. I just knew that I wanted to do something great. Nobody to influence, no uncle, no brother, my friends were equal.
Everything is possible if you put your mind to it
When I saw your post about your ten years wedding anniversary, I was astounded. How do you think the institution of marriage can make us better people? In the society people just settle, most times it’s not like they don’t have personal ambitions but they just settle on raising their kids and building a family (which is good) but they just live average lives. How do you not just settle and pursue the extraordinary? That woman made me a better person. My wife is always pushing me, she is my friend. She is my only friend. I don’t tell people my heart like I tell her. When we were in school, I had another friend (not girlfriend) which I thought I was going to propose to but each time I saw her, there was no flow, there was no connection. Each time I see this person, something is unleashed and I will say everything as it is. I discovered that there was a flow and I have come to understand that for a marriage to be fruitful, influential, beneficial, you must marry your friend because even in marriage, you are going to fight. You can afford to not talk to your wife, but you can’t afford to not talk to your friend. When somebody is your friend (your real friend), you will always miss them. That was always in my head that I must marry my friend. She was my friend and still my friend. She made me a better person, she has been there for me like forever and I don’t joke with her. Marriage should be beneficial, when I was in school, God gave me a revelation, the bible said that “while we were sinners, Christ died for us”. That means that we were still sinners when Christ died for us. His death for us was not premised on our righteousness, it was not premised on anything we did. He chose to love us (I chose to love you). That means that she doesn’t even have to love me, no matter what she does I have decided to love her. It is a decision not emotional. Emotion is not constant because at times in marriage you don’t want to see your partner because you are tired of them but that’s emotion. It is a current but when you decide that I will love this person. The bible said neither death, principalities, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. The same way applies in my mind and she reciprocates. When husband and wife love themselves, they will have fantastic children, they will have healthy children. Their children will be confident and bold. I fear poverty and failure as a parent.
The noise in the background, glitches and movement did it affect you while reading? What kept you going? No, because I did not know that anyone was there. I was focused. I made up my mind not to listen to anybody. I could hear voices but I was not distracted.
How did your family respond when you told them about your plans for Guinness World Record?
I only told my wife and children, they were expectant. After the trial run, my children came to see me and asked me “Daddy, when are you going to do the real thing”. I told them and they were supportive. They did not know what it entailed so I gave them a picture, they all ran with it and when it was successful, they were happy.
It’s not everyday someone breaks a record, so far how has it been and what has changed? Your life before and after Guinness World Record. To start with, we are still waiting for GWR to confirm the breaking of the record. However, I am not the person I used to be. They call me a star now, I don’t want to be a star I want to be a superstar. I am a politician; a card carrying member of APC but now I can’t fight like I used to fight because then in my party, I had different Ideas from what they had and I always force my way but now I cannot. I have to mind what I say, where I go and what I do. Even on group chats, I can’t even contribute because if I do, somebody will say, “He his taking side with this person”. Before now, people were always looking out for what I will put on these platforms. They fear me, even now much more. I have to be careful now because many people are now looking up to me.
Your top 5 books you think every human should read. The first one is by Dale Carnegie; How to Win Friends and Influence People, that is the first book I read after my academic book and that book changed my life. 2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. 3. Power of the Plus Factor by Norman Vincent Peale (I have read books o). 4. Think Big by Ben Carson 5. The Bible; you must read the bible.
Your top 5 (people) sources of inspiration.
1. Pastor Paul Adefarasin 2. Donald Trump 3. I have a friend who had little influence on me; Kunle Craig 4. Chief Obafemi Awolowo 5. Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
What is that quote or bible verse that helps you to keep pushing? “For the joy set before him he endured the cross”-Hebrew 12:2b
What are your plans for the future? Now, we are going from school to school, the goal is to make reading popular, the goal is to change our reading culture to make it healthier because I discovered that the health of a country’s reading culture affects the country itself. If you look at the top ten countries in the world with the healthiest reading culture, it reflects in their economy. My goal is to ensure that you read whether for academic, pleasure, personal development; you just have to read. We have been going to schools and we are going to measure feedback for improvements. In the next six months, there will be another book event also about reading. It is also a Guinness World Record but this time it won’t be only me, it would be myself and other 10,000 people. It is ‘most people in a reading relay’, it is a relay. I will read a sentence, you will read a sentence, another person will read a sentence.
You can reach him on Instagram @iread_bayode