Nigerian chess prodigy Tani Adewumi, 12, granted asylum within the U.S.


Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi rose to sudden stardom at age 8 for his putting chess expertise: He beat 73 opponents and clinched the New York state chess championship for his division. On the time, in 2019, he was dwelling together with his household in a homeless shelter.

They’d moved to New York from Nigeria in 2017, looking for spiritual asylum after the household, devoutly Christian, was threatened by the terrorist group Boko Haram and compelled to flee their nation.

Since Tani’s breakout state championship, his trophies have multiplied. At 10, he was named a National Master, and his present title is FIDE Master, a prestigious designation awarded by the worldwide chess governing physique. Alongside together with his chess accolades, his life story grew to become the topic of a book.

However Tani, now 12, simply received maybe his most pivotal feat: He and his household have been formally granted asylum in america.

“It feels superb, as a result of it’s been such a protracted journey,” stated Tani, whose older brother confirmed him a sport much like chess, and he rapidly mastered chess when he discovered the best way to play in elementary faculty. “I’m simply grateful that we’ve gotten this chance.”

“We really feel so relieved,” stated Tani’s father, Kayode Adewumi. “All people is so completely happy.”

Whereas the information is thrilling for the entire household, it’s particularly thrilling for Tani, whose chess profession was considerably stalled due to his pending asylum software. Till now, he has not been in a position to journey to tournaments overseas — stifling his capacity to succeed in his final objective of changing into a Grandmaster.

“That was a really large problem for him,” Adewumi stated.

Matthew Ingber, a part of the authorized workforce that labored professional bono on the Adewumi household’s asylum case, stated he first discovered about Tani’s scenario in the summertime of 2021.

A bus driver helped a child read. Now he tutors kids for free between routes.

“It was such a compelling story,” stated Ingber, a managing accomplice at Mayer Brown’s New York workplace.

Regardless of Tani’s surprising fame, life has been removed from straightforward for his household — together with his mother and father, Kayode and Oluwatoyin Adewumi, and his brother, Adesina Austin, 19.

The asylum course of, the Adewumis discovered, may be lengthy and arduous — and generally scary.

“It was slightly bit scary,” stated Adewumi, who first labored as a dishwasher and an Uber driver upon transferring to America and is now an actual property salesman at Douglas Elliman. The household is now not homeless and lives in an house in New York Metropolis.

Adewumi and his spouse feared their asylum software can be rejected and they’d be despatched again to Nigeria — a prospect that terrified them, he stated.

Their flight was canceled, so 13 strangers got in a van and drove 652 miles

Ingber assembled a workforce from Mayer Brown to work on the case, together with attorneys Justin Perkins and Christopher Mikesh.

“This isn’t only a story about 8-year-old Tani,” Mikesh stated. “It’s additionally a narrative a couple of household who got here to america with little or no and did all the things they presumably might to make a life for themselves right here.”

“It’s really inspiring what the household has achieved,” he added. “To even be a small a part of their story is actually an honor for us.”

Working alongside legal professional Carolina Curbelo, who was already representing the Adewumi household, Mayer Brown grew to become formally concerned within the case in early 2022.

The household utilized for asylum in 2019 and had an upcoming listening to date. Nonetheless, “there was quite a lot of uncertainty going into this course of,” Mikesh stated.

“There’s at all times threat related to any trial,” echoed Ingber, including that deportation is “at all times a threat once you’re dealing in these kind of asylum instances.”

Forward of the formal immigration listening to, the attorneys aimed to discover different choices that will “assist the household velocity up the method and make sure that they received a good end result,” Mikesh stated. “What we thought can be a greater concept is to attempt to persuade the federal government that this case actually was open-and-shut, and there was no actual query that our purchasers deserved asylum.”

A stranger called. He had photos of her family from the Holocaust era.

They submitted paperwork itemizing the explanations the household was worthy of asylum to the Division of Homeland Safety.

“They’re energetic members of their church, of their neighborhood, of their faculty. They are surely a paradigm case for granting asylum,” Ingber defined. “They’re contributing in ways in which ought to make us all really feel very proud to have them as a part of our nation.”

The papers took time to maneuver by means of the system, however earlier than lengthy, there was progress — and it was promising. At an preliminary listening to in July, an immigration choose indicated that the case would go ahead.

“I used to be simply completely happy in that second,” stated Tani, now within the seventh grade. “I used to be screaming and shouting.”

The ultimate order of asylum was issued in October, and the household obtained their asylum playing cards on Nov. 30.

“It’s, in impact, their license to stay in america. It permits them to journey internationally,” Ingber stated. “It’s their path to the liberty that they wished.”

“It’s unimaginable to overstate how impactful this was for the household,” he stated. “They don’t really feel entitled to it; they really feel privileged to be right here.”

Certainly, Adewumi stated, “we’re actually grateful for all the things,” together with the individuals who contributed funds over time to assist them. The outpouring of kindness prompted the household to launch a foundation in 2020 aimed toward serving to different refugees and homeless individuals.

“We actually respect all the things the Individuals have achieved for us,” Adewumi stated. “We really feel so welcome.”

He stated his household will apply for everlasting residency in a couple of 12 months.

Tani, for his half, is elated to lastly really feel at residence and is extra motivated than ever to succeed in his objective of incomes the Grandmaster title — the best designation in chess, other than World Champion.

“I do know I’ll do it, and I do know it’ll occur,” he stated. “The long run is brilliant. It’s stuffed with shade and good issues.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button