The story of an 8-yr-old Nigerian boy who escaped Boko Haram to be a chess champion - Khorgist.com

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Monday, 18 March 2019

The story of an 8-yr-old Nigerian boy who escaped Boko Haram to be a chess champion

At this time, the 8-year-old is moving in on the world's best chess player.
Tanitoluwa Adewumi, who lives with his family in a shelter in New York City, has become a chess champion in little over a year. (New York Times)
Nigerians are doing great things across different field in foreign terrains. Doctors, artists, scientists, designers, actors, musicians and so forth have been making inroads into the bowels of the rich and powerful across the west.

This time, the Nigerian making such waves is an 8-year-old who was forced to flee Nigeria with his family upon threat to life from terrorism.

Chess is a renowned game of intellect, nous and intense calculation. Thus, the one quite adept at the game are subjected to intense celebrity status and global respect. One of such celebrated people is Bobby Fischer, who was portrayed in a recent movie by Spiderman actor, Tobey Maguire.


L-R: Tobey Maguire and Bobbt Fischer. Maguire played Fischer in the movie, "Pawn Sacrifice."

The honour belongs to the 8-year-old Nigerian, previously mentioned. He is homeless and he has just won his seventh trophy in just over one year of playing chess - his category at the New York State chess championship. He is a third grader and he lives in a homeless shelter in Manhattan, New York. His family’s request for asylum continues to drag with another hearing slated for August, but Tani says, “I feel American.”

According to New York Times, his dad, Kayode Adewunmi rents a car to drive an abuse, and has also passed an exam to be a real estate salesman while his mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumi has also passed an exam to be a home aide.

His name is Tanitoluwa ‘Tani’ Adewumi, the newly crowned chess champion for kindergarten through third grade. He went undefeated at the state tournament last weekend, outwitting children from elite private schools with private chess tutors.

Even with his recent affinity with a chess board, his play has skyrocketed month by month, and he now has seven trophies by his bed in the homeless shelter. He tells New York Times that he wants to be the youngest grandmaster.


Tani with his mum, dad and brother. (Espact)

Tani’s family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, from the threat of Boko Haram’s brute force, raiding, pillaging, killing and kidnapping. His father, Kayode Adewumi, made the decision to move his family.

ALSO READ: How Africa became a hotbed for terrorism

A study by the International Centre for Counter-terrorism, The Hague, captures the links between terrorism and migration thus, “International migration is driven not just by political violence, armed conflict and state repression but just as much by economic and environmental factors. This type of migration is likely to grow enormously in the years to come due to climate change and loss of employment opportunities due to globalization.

“There are multiple causal relations between (forced/irregular) migration and terrorism - but these are generally complex. While it is, in concrete situations, difficult to isolate specific factors as being responsible for migration, a major driver of forced migration is severe state repression involving attacks on civilian populations that, in cases of (civil) war, often also amount to war crimes or war-time terrorism.”

Of the over 300,000 deaths from terrorism in 2014, Nigeria ranked second after Iraq with 23.0%. Thus, it is not beyond belief to understand why Nigerians are running overseas.

New York Times reports that, “Tani, his parents and his older brother arrived in New York City a bit more than a year ago, and a pastor helped steer them to a homeless shelter. Tani began attending the local elementary school, P.S. 116, which has a part-time chess teacher who taught Tani’s class how to play.”

After asking his mother, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, Tani has since joined the Chess Club after his mother emailed the club to tell the teacher that Tani is “interested in the chess program, which he will like to be participating in,” but she could not afford the fees.

Russell Makofsky, in charge of the P.S. 116 chess program, waived the fees. A year later, Tani’s rating is now 1587 and rising fast. A year ago, he had the lowest rating of any participant, 105. The world’s best chess player, Magnus Carlsen, stands at 2845.)

Tani’s style continues to alarm people. Jane Hsu, the principal of P.S. 116, which held a pep rally to celebrate Tani’s victory said, “It’s an inspiring example of how life’s challenges do not define a person.”


Tani with his Mum and brother. (New York Times)

Hsu noted that while Tani lacks a home, he has enormously supportive parents dedicated to seeing him succeed.

his family, though very religious, allows him miss practice when necessary, him mom takes him every Saturday to a three-hour free practice session in Harlem, and attends his tournaments. His dad lets Tani use his laptop each evening to practice.

Nonetheless, it is still hard for young Tani, who once cried because he misheard a Judge whom he thought said was going to deport his family. He also cries sometimes from being teased over homelessness.

His school chess teacher, Shawn Martinez “He is so driven. He does 10 times more chess puzzles than the average kid. He just wants to be better.”

Makofsky said, “One year to get to this level, to climb a mountain and be the best of the best, without family resources. I’ve never seen it.”

New York Times reports that, “Tani is a reminder that refugees enrich this nation — and that talent is universal, even if opportunity is not. Back in Nigeria, his parents say, his brilliance at chess would never have had an outlet.”

Tani’s Dad says, “The U.S. is a dream country. Thank God I live in the greatest city in the world, which is New York, New York.”

Tani now prepares for the elementary national championship in May.












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