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The Power of a Pawn: Tunde Onakoya's Quest to Change Lives through Chess

Makoko, the largest floating slum in Africa, is a place where hope can be hard to come by. But for Tunde Onakoya, it's where he found his calling. Born and raised in an economically disadvantaged area, Tunde saw firsthand the struggles that many children face in similar situations. But when he discovered the game of chess, everything changed.

Photo Credit: Edgar Hamala

Tunde realized that the strategy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills he developed through playing chess could be used to help lift children out of poverty and give them a better future. And so, in 2018, he founded Chess in Slums Africa, an organization that uses the game of chess as a tool for empowering children from impoverished backgrounds.

As a leader, Tunde exemplifies what it means to be an Afropolitan. He has chosen to go into the trenches and tackle the challenges head-on, using chess as a means to bridge the gap between disadvantaged children and a better life. In just a few short years, Chess in Slums Africa has had an immeasurable impact, securing lifelong scholarships for over 200 children and partnering with organizations, companies, and governments to further their mission.

Tunde & Eche in Makoko at the Chess in Slums Africa Academy

Last October, I had the privilege of visiting Tunde in Makoko and seeing the Chess in Slums Africa initiative in action. And then in January, I interviewed Tunde on the Afropolitan podcast, where he shared his inspiring story and vision for the future. He explained that at Chess in Slums Africa, they believe every child deserves an equal opportunity to attain a better life, regardless of their background. And just like the pawn in chess can be promoted to a queen, every child can be elevated from their disadvantaged position.

Tunde's passion and dedication to improving the lives of children in Africa are truly inspiring. Through Chess in Slums Africa, he is providing a path to a better future for countless children, giving them the hope and the skills they need to succeed. His story is a testament to the transformative power of the game of chess, and a reminder that one person can make a difference in the world.

With Unicef Officials at the Chess in Slums Academy

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