Chess is the land of the underdog. It is a world of balance and equity in which a nine year old kid can win against a sixty-five year old adult. Chess knows no age, no religion, no race, no socioeconomic background, or any of the social or political barriers that tend to divide people. When at the chess board, the outcome of the game relies solely on your drive, determination, and your skill. This is why the chess world is filled with stories, books, and movies about people from traditionally underprivileged areas of the world overcoming incredible obstacles and rising to chess greatness. In my opinion, the fact that many of these stories are true and are happening in real time in today’s world is one of the greatest parts of the game as a cultural institution.
A recently established nonprofit called Chess in Slums – Africa, is one such story that is playing out right under our noses and deserves as much attention and support as we can possibly give. Babatunde Onakoya founded Chess in Slums in 2018 as a way of helping impoverished kids improve their education and their lives through hard work and chess. It was chess that helped Babatunde escape the unimaginably grim conditions of the slums in Lagos, Nigeria.
As recently as 2020, Chess.com announced a partnership with Chess in Slums – Africa to help Babatunde promote chess among the slums of Lagos. It is his hope that by learning the game, the children being raised in the squalor of floating homes and debris will gain self confidence and critical thinking skills that can help to further their education and affect overall change in the impoverished areas of the Lagos community.
Are you interesting in contributing to the growing chess community in Lagos? Check out the Chess in Slums – Africa project on its social media accounts or via the email information below.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @Chessinslums
- Twitter: @Chessinslums
- Facebook: @Chessinslums
Image Credit: Daily Sabah, FIDE, Reuters