An undergraduate of the University of Lagos, Rhema Ahonsi, is aiming to have his name in the Guinness World Record as he attempts the longest singing marathon record.
Rhema, 27, who is joining a host of Nigerians making record-breaking attempts, an unprecedented surge experienced by Guinness, after Hilda Baci’s cook-a-thon record, will be attempting to become the first Nigerians to sing for the longest hour.
Chef Baci, who was recently dethroned by Irish chef, Alan Fisher, set a GRW for marathon cooking officially logged at 93 hours 11 minutes by the GWR after cooking for a total of 100 hours in May 2023, in Lagos.
After Hilda’s success, Nigerians suddenly caught the wave which produced the likes of Chef Damilola Adeparusi, and Joyce Ijeoma, a masseuse who collapsed after over 50 hours while aiming to set a new record for the longest time spent massaging non-stop.
Ijeoma’s attempt was accompanied by a puff-puff-a-thon and a cry-a-thon by Farominiyi Kemi, a double-attempter, who targeted frying a record number of puff-puff, and Tembu Ebere, who made an attempt of crying non-stop for seven days.
Ebere’s daunting task came to an end after he went partially blind for 45 minutes after experiencing serious health issues; headaches, a swollen face, and puffed eyes, the BBC reported.
“I had to re-strategise and reduce my wailing,” Ebere admitted in a chat with the BBC.
Ebere eventually got the attention of GWR who immediately denied approving the cry-a-thon attempt.
“Just to quell some recent rumours, we wouldn’t ever monitor a record for the longest marathon crying. Here’s what can be monitored by our team,” GWR said.
In 2022, 13-year-old Chinonso Eche set the record for the most consecutive football (soccer) touches in one minute while balancing a football on the head with 111 touches.
A Nigerian senior secondary school student, Gbenga Ezekiel, also skipped his way into the GWR for the most skips in a minute on one leg.
Most recently, Helen Williams from Lagos, Nigeria has achieved a new record for the longest handmade wig which stretches an incredible 351.28 metres (1,152 feet 5 inches), and it is on this wing of successes that Rhema will hope to ride on.
However, the 200 level Theatre Arts student who begins his feat on Saturday, November 25 to 30 at LAMP Studio, UNILAG, Akoka, Lagos, will have some hurdles to scale before ousting India’s Sunil Waghmare who held the longest singing marathon record by an individual since 2012.
Record holder, Waghmare, put his name on GWT by singing for 105 hours in Nagpur, India, from March 3 to 7, 2012, singing a variety of popular Indian songs.
On Waghmare’s record, Guinness said, “No song was repeated within a four-hour period (as stated in Guinness’ rule document to Rhema) attempt ended on the evening of March 7 (2012) after which Mr Waghmare joined in with a sing-song with his supporters.”
Apart from staying awake for five days, Rhema, as required by GWR, must sing “songs recognisable and performed to a reasonable standard” throughout the attempt despite only having 24 hours of experience during a trial earlier this month.
GWR also stated that “apart from pauses lasting no more than 30 seconds between tunes, singing must be continuous” and “Each piece of music must last at least two minutes.”
According to GWR, Rhema “may be accompanied or unaccompanied. If accompanied, no musician may play for more than four hours, after which they must take a break of at least four hours.”
However, no piece of music may be repeated in performance within four hours and no improvisation or jamming is allowed.
“It is gospel all through. I’ll be doing 1,300 gospel songs. It could be in the genre of R&B, genre of reggae, genre of blues, jazz, traditional and luckily enough, I’ll be doing more of our Nigerian songs,” he said in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
In a chat with Punch, the 27-year-old said, “Being a Nigerian and attempting this record means a whole lot. Majorly it’s a huge achievement for me and the country because when I finally set the new record by God’s grace, I’ll be the first Nigerian to do that.”
He added, “It means more than breaking a record. It’s a celebration of our rich musical heritage as I’ll be doing 1300 gospel Songs, a testament to the resilience and passion embedded in our culture. This endeavour represents a bridge between tradition and innovation, showcasing the diversity and vibrancy of Nigerian music on a global stage. It’s not just a personal achievement; it’s a proud representation of the musical spirit that defines Nigeria cause I’ll be doing our indigenous gospel songs in this feat.
Asked why he wants to attempt the record which will see him become the first Nigerian to do so, Rhema said, “The major inspiration for this really is God and I was deeply inspired by the Bethesda School for the Blind, which they have shown me remarkable resilience regardless of their inability to see, it doesn’t stop them from achieving.
“I want to use this attempt to symbolise the power of determination and overcome challenges regardless of whatever people are saying and all.”
While admitting that there are discouragements such as lack of steady power supply, amongst others he added, “In life, I have learnt to know that there would always be discouragement or opposition to things people don’t see or don’t totally believe in until they see how far you’re going and how you’ve progressed that you aren’t backing down at all then they come to support and encourage you along the line. I have learnt to also try to encourage myself in the Lord daily as I look ahead of me throughout this journey knowing that he would come through. He started the work and He’s faithful to complete it.”
As Rhema prepares for the record-breaking task on Saturday, GWR revealed that it “accepts no responsibility for the safety of participants or bystanders in any record attempt.”
Rhema told Punch that “there should be on the ground for the 5 Days. Provisions are being made and letters written to medical firms.”