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10-year-old Nigerian Christian refugee becomes National Chess Master

A 10-year-old Christian refugee has come a long way from fleeing Islamist terrorists Boko Haram in Nigeria. Tani Adewumi just earned the title of National Chess Master, an elite ranking in the world of chess.

Adewumi’s father, Kayode, announced his victory and attributed it to God in a Facebook post.


The proud father also included photos of his son receiving his trophies for the championship.

Just a few years ago, little Tani had a very uncertain future as a refugee whose homeless family had fled an Islamic terrorist death threat in Nigeria. He and his family were granted asylum by the Trump administration.

Now, he has just won all four of his matches at the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship tournament in Connecticut.  The U.S. Chess Federation says that victory on May 1st earned him the title of “chess master”, making him the 28th youngest person to achieve that high ranking.

Just two years after coming to the U.S. and at 8-years-old, Tani won the 2019 New York state championship in the K through third-grade division. At that point, he’d been playing less than a year.

“I had the confidence, but after I won three games in a row, then I started to really build up that good, good stable confidence that never goes away,” says Tani.

Chess team coach, Shawn Martinez, notes, “It doesn’t happen every year where you see a student who learned the game after just one year and they’re performing in the toughest scholastic tournament probably in the country – not only in the state – performing pretty much perfectly. He’s undefeated.”

Tani’s unlikely victory spread quickly throughout the media, the story of the young boy who found his love for chess, while playing with his brother in Abuja, Nigeria.

“My brother made paper pieces with tape and we just started to move pieces around. We moved—illegal moves everywhere around the world, but it was—it was always fun,” says Tani.

Then, the whole story began to unfold. Just a year earlier, his family had fled Nigeria, threatened by terrorists who vowed to kill them.

“The Boko Haram, they are killing, they are bombing the market, the mosques, the church, everywhere,” says Kayode, Tani’s father.

Despite the violence, Tani’s father, Kayode, had been able to run his printing business—until the day he refused to do work for the terrorists. Then they showed up at their home.

“One pointed a gun at me. I was on the floor,” says his mother, Oluwatoyin. “One said, ‘Let’s use her, as a message to her husband.’ I can’t really say what they are saying, what they mean. It might be rape, might be killed, or so many things can happen. I don’t know what to do,” says Oluwatoyin. “But to me, I was just praying to God, ‘God, please save me. Save my children.'”

Thankfully, they left without incident. Still, the threats—and visits—continued, and Kayode moved the family to Akure, Nigeria.

“And they just knocked and came in again,” says Kayode. “That they even come out and say that, ‘We traced you down to Akure. Now, we get you tonight. You will go and meet your God today.'”

Since his family moved out of the homeless shelter, the young Adewumi’s life has changed so much that, besides winning numerous awards on chess tournaments, he has also become an author of a book about his life titled, “My Name Is Tani…and I Believe In Miracles: The Amazing True Story Of One Boy’s Journey From Refugee To Chess Championship.”

The book, available on Amazon (below), is noted as the “#1 Best Seller In Chess” and is rated 4.5 stars. It tells the flight of Adewumi’s family from Nigeria, to escape the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, to America, where they survived thanks to odd jobs. It also shares the story of how he ended up joining the public school’s chess club.

–Wire services and CBN

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