Tunde Onakoya, the founder of Chess in slums Africa, has opened up on some of the difficulties he and his team faced during their latest project for children living under the Oshodi bridge in Lagos.


Chess in slums Africa is a non-profit organisation known for using the game as a framework to promote education and raise champions from low communities.

Last year, the group organised a chess training for “51 homeless children” living under the bridge in Oshodi.

During the training, the team took the children on the rudiments of chess as well as mental maths where they were given several puzzles to solve.


The exercise ended with a contest organised to test the participants’ knowledge of what they were taught during the training session.

The project received widespread commendations and got the attention of top figures across the globe including Patrice Evra, the former Manchester United player; and Kevin Tokar, acting Canadian high commissioner to Nigeria.

Both Evra and Tokar visited Oshodi bridge where they played chess with children trained by Onakoya’s team.


In a lengthy Twitter thread on Wednesday, Onakoya said despite the strides achieved by the project, it “wasn’t just a two-hour fairy tale with a happy ending.”

He said after concluding the project, his team had to deal with the challenge of getting accommodation for the 51 children to ensure they are properly rehabilitated.

The chess coach added that initial efforts to get the children an accommodation proved abortive.

“Things got extremely complex as one problem lingered- The kids were still living under the bridge and we didn’t have an accommodation plan for them that was sustainable,” he wrote.


Onakoya said some persons also attempted to turn the hoodlums (area boys) under the bridge that were supporting the initiative against them.

“Some Nigerians were calling the Area Boys that volunteered with us and tried to get them to turn against us because we were ‘using them to make money,” he added.

He said during his team’s quest to address the accommodation issue, one of the boys fell off the bridge and broke his leg while trying to escape from task force officials at the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) terminal in Oshodi.

According to him, the boy went for surgery and was later taken to the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Igbobi, Lagos where he spent two months.


“Things got worse… One of the boys, in an attempt to escape Task force officers at the BRT terminal, fell off the bridge and broke his leg. We had to take him to the hospital and paid for his surgery. He spent the next two months recovering at Igbobi. We visited him every day,” he added.

Onakoya said the challenges facing children living under the bridge informed his team’s decision to ensure they get accommodation for them.

“The reality of children living under bridge is a very dark one. We had cases of rape, boys being molested by thugs, child trafficking and children being lured by strangers and used for money ritual. Their vulnerability made them easy prey as no one was going to look for them,” he said.

Onakoya said help eventually came when Child Lifeline, a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for street children, reached out to them.


According to him, the organisation owned a facility that could accommodate 19 boys while the remaining children were reunited with their families and empowered with laptops to continue their coding lessons.

Onakoyoa also said some of the kids were enrolled in schools to further their education.

Below is his thread:



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