An 8 year old boy from Nigeria has succeeded big time. Not without assistance. It took a “village.”
The young man’s name Tanitoluwa Adewumi. Family and friends call him Tani.
The family refugees from what has been described by President Trump as a shit hole country. Christians. They fled Nigeria in 2017. Boho Haram terrorists were on a rampage attacking Christians.
They arrived on American shores with nothing, except the clothes they wore. They are here legally, seeking asylum.
Homeless in America. Various welfare organizations provided assistance. Their living quarters a homeless shelter in Manhattan. Tani and his 11 year old brother attend a public school, P.S. 116. Churchgoers. Father works 2 jobs. Drives a rented Uber and sells real estate. The mother recently obtained a hospital care certificate, but until now has not been able to find a job.
P.S. 116 has a chess club. A fee required to participate. Tani for some reason was attracted to the game. He and his family did not have the money to join. The chess club waived the fee.
Tani became addicted to chess. Practiced long hours in the evening. Attended the chess club regularly. His mother took him to a Harlem facility every saturday afternoon to practice an additional 3 hours.
One year after beginning to learn chess, Tani entered the New York State Chess Championship. Competed in his age group.
He won. Destroyed the completion. Primarily from elite private schools. Never lost a match.
The trophy he proudly carried home was almost as big as Tani.
New York Times opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof enters the picture. He wrote a column re Tani. His background and success. The column’s thrust was talent is universal, even if opportunity is not.
The column ran 3/16/19. A follow up column one week later on 3/23/19.
Kristof’s first column revealed Tani’s story to the world. The follow up column 7 days later with what occurred as a result.
Tani’s success went world wide. An 8 year old champion destined to be champion as an adult. Brilliance in the midst of poverty.
Unanticipated rewards came from everywhere.
Six housing units. Some palatial. The family opted for a 2 bedroom modest apartment near Tani’s middle school. A donor paid the rent in advance for one year. Another donor supplied the furniture, sheets and towels.
A GoFundMe account was opened in Tani’s name. Within a matter of days, over $200,000 came in. One would think a homeless family would personally enjoy the $200,000. Not so. Tani’s father tithed their Church 10 percent. The Church and its pastor had been good to the family ever since it arrived. The balance placed in a Tanitoluwa Adewumi Trust Fund. Its purpose to help African immigrant families struggling in the United States.
A number of immigration attorneys came forth offering their assistance pro bono.
Three film companies have approached Tani’s father. Each wants to do a movie about Tani.
Three private schools offered Tani a scholarship. The scholarship offers have been refused. Tani prefers to continue attending the middle school he has. He recognizes the good his chess teachers and the staff have done for him.
Tani soon will be meeting Bill Clinton.
Tani’s father has a new car of his own. The donor thought he could keep more of his earnings were he not driving a rented car.
Tani’s mother has been offered a position at a hospital.
The excitement of winning had to be monumental for Tani. When asked however what he would be enjoying most, he said his mother’s cooking. The new apartment has a kitchen. Living in a homeless shelter for a year he had to go without her food preparation.
Tani was asked were there things he wanted that he could have bought if the family kept the $200,000. Tani said no. We have everything now. Then he thought for a moment. I would like a computer.
I am sure one will be forthcoming.
Shawn Martinez is one of Tani’s school chess teachers. He commented, “One year to get to this level, to climb a mountain and be the best of the best, without family resources…..I’ve never seen it.”
A lot of good things have happened to Tani in a sort time. Asked how he felt about it all, he responded “I feel American.”
God bless Tani. God bless his family who provided his moral basis. God bless his chess teachers and his priest.
Finally, God bless Nicholas Kristof who brought Tani’s success story to the world.
It took a village.
Enjoy your day!