From the Slums to the Guinness World Record: The Inspiring Journey of Tunde Onakoya

At 10 am on April 17, 2024, in New York City’s iconic Times Square, Tunde Onakoya embarked on his attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon, aiming to play for 58 hours without losing a game. Currently, the record holders are Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad from Norway. They set the record on November 11, 2018, by playing chess continuously for 56 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds.

On April 20, 2024, at 2 am GMT, Tunde Onakoya officially broke the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon, playing for 58 hours. However, we are currently awaiting confirmation from Guinness World Records officials, who typically conduct their own investigation before confirming the record and issuing a certificate.

Several notable guests, including Davido, Russell Makofsky (a board member of “The Gift of Chess”), and Omoyele Sowore, have been at the event to show their support for Tunde Onakoya as he attempts to break the Guinness World Record for the longest chess marathon. Additionally, the event has been covered by prominent media outlets such as FOX, BBC, and The New York Times.

But Tunde isn’t just doing this for himself. He has a bigger goal in mind. He wants to raise money and awareness for Chess in Slums Africa. —An organization dedicated to providing children from impoverished backgrounds with better opportunities for the future. So while Tunde is playing chess for a long time, he’s also helping make the world a better place for those kids.

But who exactly is Tunde Onakoya, the founder of “Chess in Slums Africa,” a non-governmental organization (NGO)?

Tunde Onakoya Biography

The early life of Babatunde Onakoya popularly known as Tunde Onakoya was tough, but he didn’t let it hold him back. Born in a modest family in Isale Odo, Ikorodu, on October 6, 1994, Tunde faced financial struggles from the start. His parents, a dad who sold spare parts and a mom who traded small goods, found it hard to pay for Tunde and his younger brother to go to school.

Because they couldn’t afford school fees, Tunde ended up spending a lot of time at home while his friends moved ahead in their studies. But one day, while hanging out at the local barber shop playing video games (precisely PlayStation 1), he got curious about chess. Even though the barber wasn’t keen on teaching him, Tunde watched closely as the barber and his friends played together and learned from the games played there.

Meanwhile, his mom found a way to get him into a good secondary school by working as a housekeeper in exchange for his tuition. So Tunde went back to school, but it wasn’t easy fitting in at first.

Luckily, the school had a chess club, and Tunde’s interest in the game grew. He started winning matches and gaining recognition, which not only boosted his confidence but also made his family proud.

Although Tunde dreamed of studying medicine, he faced obstacles in getting into university and affording it. But he didn’t give up. Instead, he went to Yaba College of Technology. At first, he wasn’t sure about it, but soon he found his place there, especially in the chess club. He not only improved his chess skills but also earned scholarships and money from tournaments, easing his financial burdens along the way.

Tunde Onakoya’s Journey with Chess in Slums Africa

Tunde Onakoya’s journey with Chess in Slums Africa began as a response to the stark realities he witnessed in marginalized communities like Majidun and Oshodi Under-bridge. Growing up in similar circumstances, he understood the struggles faced by children in these areas firsthand. Faced with the choice of succumbing to the cycle of poverty or making a difference, Onakoya chose the latter.

In 2018, he officially launched the Chess in Slums Initiative, aiming to use chess as a transformative tool for these children. His approach wasn’t just about teaching a game; it was about providing hope, education, and a pathway to a better future. Through the initiative, Onakoya and his team ventured into slum communities, offering chess lessons, educational support, and mentorship.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Onakoya’s work is its ability to pull children out of the depths of hopelessness. Take Ferdinand Maumo, for instance, a 10-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who found solace and purpose through chess. Despite his physical challenges, Ferdinand’s victory in a local tournament showcased the power of determination and shattered stereotypes about disability and education.

Onakoya’s impact extends beyond individual success stories. By introducing chess to slum communities, he’s raising awareness about the potential of these children and challenging societal perceptions. Through media coverage and viral stories, Chess in Slums Africa has garnered attention from both local and international audiences. Figures like Patrice Evra and Kevin Tokar the Canadian High Commissioner have lent their support, recognizing the initiative’s ability to uplift and empower marginalized youth.

Beyond the spotlight, Onakoya’s initiative has practical implications. By providing scholarships and educational opportunities, Chess in Slums Africa is breaking the cycle of poverty for hundreds of children. The initiative’s success is evident in the number of lives transformed and the recognition it has received, including awards like The Future Awards Africa Prize for Community Action and The Business Insider Award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

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