Someone, Buy This Man a Cup of Coffee

Errol T. Muzawazi is at it again.

Six years ago the Zimbabwean student gave a 62-and-a-half-hour lecture on democracy, setting a new world record in the process. He lost the title in 2004 to a scholar from India who spoke for 72 hours on “Fundamentals of Hindi Grammar,” so Mr. Muzawazi came back the next year and lectured for 88 hours, again on democracy.

A year later, another Indian scholar lectured for 98 hours on “the Molecular Logic of Life.” Undaunted, Mr. Muzawazi cracked the century mark five months with a 102-hour lecture on his favorite topic, democracy.

If you’ve been paying attention, you can guess what happened next: Yet another Indian scholar, Jayasimba Ravirala, broke Mr. Muzawazi’s record with a 120-hour lecture, March 24-27, 2007, on “Personality Development Concepts.”

It’s evidently taken Mr. Muzawazi two-and-a-half years to face the prospect of yet another marathon speech. But starting on Wednesday, December 9, at noon local time, the 25-year-old law student commenced what is being billed as “The Longest Lecture,” a planned 130-hour talk on, you guessed it, democracy. 

The lecture, which Mr. Muzawazi is giving at Jagiellonian University, in Krakow, Poland, is being presented in English—except for the introduction, which he read in six languages. Throughout his lecture, he sits and stands, talks and rambles, and often reads text verbatim. When we were watching, Mr. Muzawazi, who was recognized as this year’s “best foreign student in Poland,” read passages on fascism and monarchies from the Web-based “Science Encyclopedia”: 

“While at the level of the general public, xenophobia and anxieties over the erosion of national identity in some countries found an outlet in a new type of party, the right-wing populist party embodied in Jean–Marie Le Pen’s National Front and Jörg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party, intransigent national revolutionaries could follow several tactics to keep the revolutionary vision alive. …”

According to the rules, Mr. Muzawazi is allowed a five-minute break for every hour that he lectures. The breaks are cumulative, so over more than five days of lecturing, he is allowed less than 11 hours to sleep or use the bathroom. At least one audience member must be present at all times while he is lecturing.

Why, you may be wondering, would any human inflict this kind of misery on himself? The Web site explains that Mr. Muzawazi is trying to raise money for “the Pan-African Educational Expedition 2010, a study tour across 23 African countries in which Errol and friends from the Jagiellonian University will travel to teach basic educational skills in rural areas and volunteer in community projects.” 

Viewers are encouraged to donate money and participate in an online chat visible beneath the streaming lecture.

Less than a day into it, Mr. Muzwazi was already getting punch drunk. If he’s still going on Monday morning, which he plans as his final day of lecturing, it’s not going to be pretty.

We plan to be watching, as will some young Indian scholar, no doubt, plotting his own, record-breaking 140-hour lecture. —Don Troop




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