8-year-old Homeless Refugee who fled Boko Haram Violence in Nigeria Becomes Chess Champion of New York


Tanitoluwa Adewumi, an 8-year-old boy who fled Nigeria with his family and currently living in a homeless shelter in New York City while waiting for asylum application pends has been crowned the state’s chess champion for his age group.

The young man won the state tournament for his group, from kindergarten through third grade, last weekend.

The Adewumi family fled their home in Nigeria in 2017 in fear for their lives and have been living in a homeless shelter ever since while their application for asylum pends.

Tani, as he is known to family and friends, plays chess at the elementary school he attends and practices every night in the shelter.

His father Kayode drives for Uber and is also a real estate broker.  The family moved to the US to escape Boko Haram, the terrorist group responsible for atrocious attacks against Nigerians. The family, a devout Christians feared for their life.

Tani and his siblings became enrolled in local elementary schools not long after they arrived and he discovered the chess club. His mother Oluwatoyin emailed them to say that while they could not afford to pay the fees attached, he was eager to participate.

The club waived the fees to encourage him.

Not only does Tani play with them, but he also attends a free, three-hour practice session in Harlem every Saturday to master his game. At night, he uses his father’s laptop to practice.

Now, he wants to be the youngest grandmaster ‘ever’, he told The New York Times.

Russ Makofsy, who runs the chess club in which Tani plays, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the boy’s family.  He said it was astonishing how much Tani had improved in just a year. ‘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,’ he told The Times.

The GoFundMe page has currently raised $98,810. The target was initially $25,000 goal.


We say congratulations!

Please follow and like us:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.