Home EDUCATION CHILDREN LEARN TO PLAY CHESS IN MAKOKO, LAGOS

CHILDREN LEARN TO PLAY CHESS IN MAKOKO, LAGOS

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In Lagos’ Majidun neighborhood, a dozen children swarm around plastic tables. The children are intently focused on plastic mats printed with chess boards, and they thoughtfully move pieces on the board while supervisors watch.

The mansions and tall office buildings of Nigeria’s commercial capital are just across the lagoon from the waterside shanty town. They are hoping that the cunning and strategy they practice on the chess board will help them escape the slum.

Omoyele a 14-year-old has already dealt with food scarcity and worked to feed himself. “Queen of katwe”, the 2016 film about a girl who escapes Poverty in Kenya inspired him to play chess.

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Omoyele practices at home, in a space with watermarked concrete walls and peeling blue paint, as well as the sound of crying children.

In 2018, Babatunde Onakoya, a 26-year-old Nigerian, founded Chess in Slums Africa. Chess assisted him in his ascent from an impoverished childhood in Lagos. Onakoya said he was motivated by the belief that Nigerian education is in crisis, with many children either out of school or unable to learn what he considers to be important life skills.

He now spends his spare time navigating crowded alleyways tinged with the stench of burning garbage and generator fuel in the hopes of teaching children chess in order to help Nigerians develop a better future.

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