Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Nigerian-Greek NBA player, has unveiled a new learning centre aimed at enhancing Igbo literacy among children in Nigeria.


The unveiling in Lagos was captured in a homecoming film with WhatsApp that documented Giannis’ inaugural visit to Nigeria in July 2023.

The film, titled ‘Ugo: A Homecoming Story,’ opens with the NBA star being accompanied by his mother, who emigrated from Nigeria to Greece 35 years ago.

In the documentary, the centre, established through a partnership with WhatsApp, aims to provide a nurturing environment for Igbo kids to learn their mother tongue.


The NBA player said the establishment was inspired by his mother and his upbringing.

Giannis, born of a Yoruba father and an Igbo mother, said he could not learn both languages because his parents disagreed on who should teach the kids their dialect.

Expressing excitement about the establishment, he said, “It was unbelievable. I have a book that my mum can read in Igbo and translate below in English.


“If I had that, I would probably be speaking my mother’s language or my father’s language. I know that I needed it, I wish that my kids and grandkids can have it. It is amazing.”

‘Ugo’, the Rick Famuyiwa-directed documentary, was titled after Giannis’ Nigerian birth name.

It features appearances by several notable Nigerians, including Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, Fela’s daughter, Hilda Baci, the record-breaking chef, and Kelech Amadi-Obi, the award-winning photographer.

Giannis, born and raised in Athens, Greece, joined the NBA draft in 2013. He is one of the most decorated players in NBA history and the first basketballer of Nigerian descent to win an MVP award.


In February 2022, he became WhatsApp’s first-ever global ambassador.

Watch the documentary below:


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