FROM SLUM TO SUCCESS: the Tunde Onakoya Story

FROM SLUM TO SUCCESS: the Tunde Onakoya Story

Another monumental record has been broken! Shouts of joy and excitement fill the air. It’s a good day to be a Nigerian, as Nigerian chess master, and founder of Chess in Slums Africa, Tunde Onakoya succeeds in breaking the Guinness World Record for longest hours playing chess. This historic accomplishment lasted 58 hours, beating the former record of 56 hours and 9 minutes, and 37 seconds. The former record was achieved by Norwegian duo, Hallvard Haug Flatebo and Sjur Ferkingstad, in 2018.

The game took place at the iconic Times Square in New York city, from the 17th of April, to the 19th of April, 2024.

29 years old Tunde Onakoya played alongside fellow National Chess Master, Shawn Martinez of Brooklyn, USA. Both players played against each other throughout the marathon.

They were continuously serenaded by African music, while onlookers and supporters encouraged them with cheers and applause.

The chess expert first announced his intention days ago on his X page, to break the Guinness World Record for longest chess marathon without losing a game.

He maintained that the dedication to seeing the tournament through is aimed at becoming a beacon of hope for underprivileged children across Africa.  “With the ultimate goal of raising $1,000,000 to advance the education of these deserving individuals, every contribution, whether big or small, brings us closer to realizing this noble vision.”

Congratulations, and donations are already pouring in. Nigerians, including President Bola Tinubu, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Vice President, Kashim Shettima and Singers Davido, and Adekunle Gold, have shown support for the chess maestro. 


Tunde’s chess journey started in childhood. He was born and raised in the slums in Ikorodu, Lagos, and learned to play chess in a barbershop. While getting his diploma in Computer Science from the Yaba College of Technology, he won a gold medal in the Nigeria Polytechnic Games. His other championships include the National Friends of Chess and the Chevron Chess Open.  

Onakoya believes that the game of chess saved him from the immense poverty he faced while growing up with his family in Lagos’s slums.

His Organization: Chess in Slums Africa 

In 2018, Tunde Onakoya started the non-profit organization, Chess in Slums Africa. The core aim of the organization is to empower illiterate children from impoverished communities across the continent.

According to Wikipedia, Chess in Slums Africa had trained over 200 children and got lifelong scholarships for 20 of them as of June 2021.

BBC also reports that “Onakoya is also a board member of the US non-profit The Gift of Chess, which works to transform lives through chess and is targeting to distribute one million chess sets to undeserved communities by 2030”.



Chess In Slums Africa


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