Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a 10-year-old Nigerian-American, is now a United States National Chess Master.
Tani, as he is known, first gained prominence two years ago after Nicholas Kristof wrote about him for The New York Times, for winning the New York State Chess Championship while in a homeless shelter as a refugee kid.
Things could have gone many ways for Tanitoluwa, who’s now well housed, according to Nicholas Kristof. 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, Tanitoluwa’s father took a job as an Uber driver and a dishwasher, while his mother took a job as a housekeeper.
Tani 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.
Three books were published about his story in 2020. The books are My Name Is Tani…, Tani’s New Home: A Refugee Finds Hope and Kindness in America, My Name Is Tani Young Readers Edition Educator’s Guide.
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.
Click on the comment box below and leave us your thoughts. Thank you