A 12-year-old Nigerian chess champion, Tanitoluwa Adewumi, and his family have been granted asylum by the government of the United States of America.
Adewumi rose to sudden stardom at age 8 for his striking chess skills. He beat 73 opponents and clinched the New York state chess championship for his division. At the time, in 2019, he was living with his family in a homeless shelter.
The chess champion had moved to New York from Nigeria in 2017, seeking religious asylum after the family, devoutly Christian, was threatened by the terrorist group Boko Haram and forced to flee their country.
The Adewumis, comprising Tanitoluwa, his parents, and his older brother, arrived in New York after fleeing Nigeria in 2017 due to fear of terror attacks from Boko Haram. They later sought religious asylum after the family arrived in the country.
On Wednesday, December 14, Washington Post reported that the US officially granted the family asylum.
“It feels amazing, because it’s been such a long journey,” said Tani, whose older brother showed him a game similar to chess, and he quickly mastered chess when he learned how to play in elementary school. “I’m just grateful that we’ve gotten this opportunity.”
“We feel so relieved,” said Tani’s father, Kayode Adewumi. “Everybody is so happy.”
Adewumi and his wife feared their asylum application would be rejected and they would be sent back to Nigeria, a prospect that terrified them, he said. “It was a little bit scary,”
Adewumi, first worked as a dishwasher and an Uber driver upon moving to America and is now a real estate salesman at Douglas Elliman. The family is no longer homeless and lives in an apartment in New York City.
Since Tani’s breakout state championship, he has won multiple trophies. At 10, he was named a National Master, and his current title is FIDE Master, a prestigious designation awarded by the international chess governing body. Along with his chess accolades, his life story became the subject of a book.
But Tani, now 12, just won perhaps his most pivotal feat: He and his family were officially granted asylum in the United States, the report added.
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