Odafe Benedict Efemuai is a long way from the Delta State region of Nigeria. The 2016 Nigerian champion has found a new home in New York where he is a chess educator. Odafe’s hometown gained the attention of major corporations after oil discovery in the 70s, and was in the news during the 90s. Unfortunately, the media exposure was due to a controversy involving ecological damage and oil contamination of the water supply. The region has had its challenges, but besides football, there are traditions like chess that have given some families joy. The Efemuai family was one of them.
Amidst some critical years in Nigeria, there was a happy place where the Efemuai family would gather and play the game of chess. It was this refuge that Odafe immersed himself under the tutelage of his older brothers. Odafe would become the National Champion of Nigeria in 2016, an impressive feat considering the amount of talent in Africa’s most populous nation. Married in 2010, his wife passed away tragically only two years later. Out of that union, they had a daughter who has now taken the family tradition of chess.
“Everywhere I go I play chess.”
~Odafe Benedict Efemuai
The Gift of Chess recently featured Odafe apparently to further their initiative in the city. The nonprofit organization has continued to expand its list of chess benefactors after starting in New York in 2021. Nigeria was one of the first recipients of chess sets as The Gift of Chess partnered with Tunde Onakoya to spread chess as part of the “Chess in Slums” initiative. Perhaps one day soon, Odafe will be the chess ambassador in his own Delta State.