By Prince Etim
Some Nigerians are of the opinion that citizens of the country stand a better chance of reaching their potentials if they live anywhere but here. The story of Tanitoluwa Adewunmi will make it difficult to argue with that logic. At eight years old, he has become a chess champion in New York, a game he started playing only last year.
His story reads like a feel-good movie: he is a refugee who lives in a homeless shelter but he has a gift that has seen children from elite private schools bow to his superior skill. According to Nicholas Kristof who wrote about him in the New York Times, he already has seven trophies under his belt.
Along with his parents and older brother, he arrived in New York in 2018 having fled Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the north. The family was helped to settle at a homeless shelter and he took up chess at the elementary school he was enrolled with. He fell in love with the game and joined the chess club. According to the NYT article, he has an aggressive style that shocked judges and onlookers. His current rating is 1587, while the world’s best player is at 2845.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for him to help his family secure accommodation in New York. In only two days, donations have exceeded the $50,000 mark originally targeted. Little wonder his father, Kayode is grateful for the opportunity. “The U.S. is a dream country. Thank God I live in the greatest city in the world, which is New York, New York.”