The Adewumi Family

28.12.2022 Featured US Grants Asylum to Family of Nigerian Who Became National Chess Master at 10

Published 28th Dec, 2022

By Segun Ige

The United States has granted asylum to a Nigerian family, the Adewumis, whose son, Tanitoluwa Adewumi, won the FIDE Master international chess title in 2021.

The devoutly Christian family had moved to New York City in 2017, seeking religious asylum, after their safety was threatened by the Boko Haram terrorist group.

In a family interview by CNN’s One World show on Tuesday, monitored by FIJ, Kayode Adewumi, the father, narrated their experience, inspiration, and belief fleeing the country at the time.

“We left our country with a lot of things for an unknown destination. We believe in one thing: God is with us. We have a strong belief that we will make it anywhere we get to. My dad would always advise me when I was much younger: ‘Don’t spoil your name anywhere you get to and be law-abiding.’ And that was how we got to the United States of America,” Adewumi said.

He continued: “We were first living in a shelter. I was washing dishes; I was an Uber driver, obtaining my license from real estate company Douglas Elliman in the 50th avenue of New York City. We are very happy; everything is cool. I’m using this medium now to reach out to Nigerian leaders to see into the [religious and sociopolitical] situation in the country.

“I am so proud of my son. It’s a wonderful thing that he is doing in our lives. God is doing a wonderful thing in our lives. God used him to raise the whole family up to the whole world. We started very low when we got to the United States. I’m so so happy for the family. And we are very grateful for the United States.”

Meanwhile, Tanitoluwa’s brother, Austin Adewumi, said although he had been of immense support to his brother’s early rising in the chess game, his school had ultimately been responsible for his overall success.

“For me, I’ve been very supportive. I taught him the game, I showed him how it worked, but I didn’t show him the right way. So, he learnt it in school. All I can do is just support, letting him continue higher,” he said.

“For me, I played the game, not as good as he is, but he was passionate about it. So, he’s able to continue growing as much as he can, which is a good thing, while for me, I try my best to focus in school.”

Tanitoluwa, whose ultimate goal is becoming a chess grandmaster, said as a chess national master, he was happy about the prospect of finally travelling for international chest tournaments because of the asylum grant in October.

“Yes, I would say that I am very happy. Now I can travel to play internationally. I am the youngest national master player right now. It is tough; I have one month. It’s quite close. I’m trying to get grandmaster. I’m happy for the asylum, and now, I’m able to travel around. And not only for chess, but also see other landmarks around the world,” he said.

Twelve-year-old chess wunderkind Tani, for short, became a shining light in the world of chess aged eight, when he won the New York State chess championship, beating 73 opponents. It was 2019, and he was still living together with his family in a homeless shelter.

A multiple-trophy winner, Tani became a national master aged 10.

He has written a book titled My Name Is Tani . . . and I Believe in Miracles: The Amazing True Story of One Boy’s Journey from Refugee to Chess Champion, where he details his (and his family’s) adventurous, miraculous experiences, notably in the United States.

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Published 28th Dec, 2022

By Segun Ige


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