Chess helps keeps children off streets

02 Apr, 2022 - 00:04 0 Views
Chess helps keeps children off streets

The Herald

ABUJA. – Slum communities in Nigeria are like a snake pit, where one fights for territory from as early as pre-teen years.

Faced with social ills, such as poverty and homelessness, there’s hardly an escape route for children. In most cases, they never reach their full potential as they are slowly drawn into a life of crime, drugs and prostitution.

It could have been the case for Babatunde “Tunde” Onakoya, 28, who at the age of 10 was likely to go down the same path that would lead to self-destruction.

But, as he sat at a barber shop one day, a man gave him a chess set.

The gift would keep him busy and away from the wrong path.

“This single action opened doors for Tunde. He went on to become the 10th highest-rated chess player in Nigeria,” said Samuel Awobajo, a friend of Tunde and his business partner.

In a country where boys who escape poverty mostly do it through football, with names such as Odion Ighalo, Anthony Nwakaeme, and Emmanuel Emenike, to name a few, Tunde took a unique route.

Since September 2018, he has been helping kids, in situations similar to his, in the best way he knew – the chess board.

“Tunde imagined a world where children have the opportunity to reach their full potential and they don’t have to drop out of school to continue the cycle of poverty. The idea of Chess in Slums Africa was conceived,” said Awobajo.

Through Chess in Slums Africa, an initiative to provide teaching and mentorship to underprivileged kids, Tunde and his crew have managed to keep children in school, away from child labour, and to help reconfigure their mindsets. –

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