December 14, 2022

US grants asylum to 12-yr-old Nigerian chess prodigy, family

US grants asylum to 12-yr-old Nigerian chess prodigy, family

By Biodun Busari

The 12-year-old boy chess prodigy, Tanitoluwa Adewumi and his parents who fled Nigeria over terrorism launched by Boko Haram fighters have been granted asylum in the United States, Washington Post reports.

Tanitoluwa Adewumi popularly known as Tani rose to stardom at age 8 for unprecedented chess skills and defeated 73 opponents to clinch the New York state chess championship for his division.

His family moved to New York in 2017, seeking religious asylum and was residing in a homeless shelter in 2019.

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Having come to the limelight for breaking into the championship and being named a National Master with the current title of FIDE Master, a prestigious designation awarded by the international chess governing body, he emerged as a global chess idol.

Tani’s most pivotal feat, perhaps, will be the recent one of him and his family being officially granted asylum in the US.

“It feels amazing because it’s been such a long journey. I’m just grateful that we’ve gotten this opportunity,” said Tani.

“We feel so relieved,” said Tani’s father, Kayode Adewumi. “Everybody is so happy.”

Speaking about his exploits over the years for emerging a Grandmaster, his father added, “That was a very big challenge for him.”

Matthew Ingber, part of the legal team that worked in volunteering on the Adewumi family’s asylum case, said he first learned about Tani’s situation in the summer of 2021.

“It was such a compelling story,” said Ingber, a managing partner at Mayer Brown’s New York office.

Ingber assembled a team from Mayer Brown to work on the case, including lawyers Justin Perkins and Christopher Mikesh.

“This is not just a story about 8-year-old Tani,” Mikesh said. “It’s also a story about a family who came to the United States with very little and did everything they possibly could to make a life for themselves here.”

“It’s truly inspiring what the family has accomplished,” he added. “To even be a small part of their story is really an honour for us.”