A 10-year-old Nigerian-American is now a United States National Chess Master.
Nicholas Kristof, who has been covering Tanitoluwa Adewumi’s story for The New York Times for many years, broke the news on his Twitter page yesterday.
“Remember Tani Adewumi, the Nigerian refugee kid I wrote about 2 years ago who won the NY State chess championship while in a homeless shelter? Now well housed (thanks to you readers!), he just won a championship and is officially a National Chess Master as a 10-yr-old 5th grader!” he wrote.
Things could have gone many ways for the 10-year-old Nigerian-American. While his family was living and thriving in Nigeria, they were threatened with violence from the Boko Haram terrorists. The threat of violence forced the Adewumi family to flee from Nigeria in 2017, according to NPR.
A kind pastor in Queens, NY, provided them temporary housing, but ultimately referred the family to the NY Department of Housing Services, where they were referred to a homeless shelter. To make ends meet, Tanituola’s father took a job as an Uber driver and a dishwasher, while his mother took a job as a housekeeper.
The 10-year-old Nigerian-American enrolled in the nearby P.S. 116 school, where a coach by the name of Shawn Martinez immediately showed him how to play chess. Young Tanitoluwa Adewumi immediately took to the game, and his school was kind enough to waive any entrance fees into the chess tournaments.
When Kristof took the 10-year-old Nigerian-American’s story to The New York Times, it attracted both national and international attention. Readers began a fundraising drive to get the Adewumi family into a home, and now, thanks to his recent win, Adewumi is a certified chess master.
In addition to releasing a series of books about his story, Adewumi’s story will soon be brought to the big screen, with “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah slated to produce the film.