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Hilda Baci Cook-A-Thon: The Strength And Grit Of A Black Woman

Hilda Baci Cook-A-Thon: The Strength And Grit Of A Black Woman



lack girl magic is at it again. We’ve seen it everywhere lately: in the entertainment industry, in sports, at NASA, the White House, and in every field and endeavor. There’s truly nothing that a Black woman couldn’t achieve if she put her heart into it. In this edition of Black Girls Breaking Ceilings, we put the spotlight on Hilda Bassey Effiong, aka Hilda Baci, a popular Nigerian chef who has set the whole nation on fire with her grit, strength, and perseverance.

This ebony queen won the hearts of Nigerians after she announced her culinary goal to set the Guinness World Record for the “Longest Hours Spent Cooking by An Individual.” This meant beating the present champion, India’s Lata Tondon, who made the feat in 2019 with 86 hours, 45 minutes, and 00 seconds of cooking non-stop. To achieve this, Baci aimed to cook for 96 hours. At 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, the gas stove came on and the clock began to tick.

The momentum

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A post shared by Hilda Baci’s Cookathon (@hildabacicookathon)

Soon enough, word spread via social media of this young Nigerian daring to shake up Guinness World Records with her determination and perseverance. Trust Nigerians to show up for their own. In no time, the people began to stream into Amore Gardens in Lekki, Lagos, where Baci was cooking. People arrived in numbers to cheer her on, and her popularity spread far and wide as the hours passed. The support grew like wildfire. Just like her, it was unstoppable. Nigerian celebrities and influencers came to show support, including Charles Okocha, Kate Henshaw, Tiwa Savage, Enioluwa, and Kaffi, who set the Guinness World Record for “Longest Dance Party” in 2006.

In addition to celebs and influencers, there were phone calls of support from President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, a visit from the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and other top politicians. Other dignitaries took to their social media handles to applaud her strength and encourage her to keep going. This is to back the saying that “Success is contagious.”

The nation rises

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But even Black queens get tired. We could see Hilda Baci’s strength wane as she reached the 67th hour. There were tears, swollen feet, fatigue, and vomiting recorded, but her support system was impenetrable. Nigerians have proven that once you’re loved by the nation, they’ll take up your case like it’s their business. People stayed at the venue day and night cheering her on, while others took to social media to keep the flame burning. Traditional dancers were invited to entertain her as she cooked. Prayers and worship went on and, of course, our darling chef prayed hard while cooking. The love was massive. The support was beyond huge.

On the interweb, the hashtags #Gohilda #Betonhilda #Hildabacicookathon were the only major trends in Nigeria. It seemed like everyone paused on activities to see this win. For Nigerians, Hilda Baci’s Cook-A-Thon was beyond mixing various spices in a pot for unbelievable hours. It was mostly perceived as a win for the country, especially now that the nation faces its fair share of political and economic challenges. And to see a proud Nigerian girl etch the country’s name in history for a positive cause is a much-needed breather for the Giant of Africa.

What Hilda Baci’s accomplishment means

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This feat is proof that every black girl needs a circle to thrive on, and Baci had all her country people be that circle. It sure takes a village. By Monday, May 15, Hilda Baci had surpassed the current champion’s time by a wide margin, hitting the 96th-hour mark. Recall that 96 hours was her target, and when she hit it, she decided to do more. Because why not? In all, the young chef pushed the mark to 100 hours of non-stop cooking. What a queen!

Interestingly, Baci’s success story didn’t start when the cooking stove came on May 11. It started five years ago when she determined in her heart to accomplish the challenge. For five years she dreamt. For five years she stayed focused. For five years she fueled her determination. For five years she trained, employing the services of a gym instructor to keep fit. She put in the work to prepare herself for the days ahead, and she accomplished it. That’s the laser type of focus more Black girls should aspire to have.

Here are some fun facts about Hilda Baci…

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A post shared by Hilda Baci’s Cookathon (@hildabacicookathon)

  • Hilda Baci is a 27-year-old Nigerian celebrity chef, food blogger, and restaurateur of My Food by Hilda.
  • Her real name is Hilda Bassey Effiong, and she’s a native of Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria.
  • Her mom is also a well-known chef and her biggest inspiration.
  • Baci won the Jollof Face-off Competition in 2021 and walked away with a grand prize of $5000.
  • Hilda Baci Cook-A-Thon ran from the 11th through the 15th of May; a total of 100 hours of non-stop cooking. She has surpassed the original record but as of this writing, the entire country is awaiting Guinness’ announcement to the effect.
  • For this feat, Baci cooked over 110 dishes and served them to the public at the venue for free. It is rumored that more than 4000 people ate during this competition.
  • Baci acknowledged this feat has been a dream she’s had for five years. She constantly trained at the gym with a personal trainer to prepare her body to withstand every difficulty associated with the challenge.

No doubt, Hilda Baci is an inspiration to all black women far and near. She embodies the unstoppable power and tenacity Black girls need, one that propels them to finish the race they started. And to do so without compromising quality.

Featured image: Tobi Loke via @hildabaci/Instagram 

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