My Journey to Idi-Iroko,  Ikorodu

Ikorodu is a city in Lagos State, Nigeria. It is located northeast of Lagos, along the Lagos Lagoon, and shares a boundary with Ogun State

With a population of over 1 million inhabitants, Ikorodu is currently one of Nigeria’s 12 most significant cities and growing at a rate of 5.26% annually; it is projected to reach 1.7 million by 2035, the largest local government in Lagos State. Indigenous settlers of Ikorodu emigrated from Sagamu in Ogun state.

My journey to Ikorod through the ferry

My chess tour to Ikorodu was made possible by SCIA and the Ikorodu Chess Club. It is the first chess tour I have taken outside Abuja since I became an ambassador for the Gift of Chess in Nigeria. Most of these chess journeys were facilitated by my father, but unfortunately, he could not make it. I recently participated in the National chess tournament organized by The tournament lasted almost two weeks; thus, the kind of work he did did not permit him to follow me this time, so my mother did this time. 

Coming for the tournament due to financial constraints looked very slim because I was still a teenager; I needed help traveling alone. What this means is that it has to be the ticket for two. My father had looked forward to an opportunity where I could compete in a significant chess competition. To make this journey possible, he asked for assistance to aid in my journey.

What has become of my chess journey

My father’s first point of contact in looking for assistance to enable me and my mother to travel yielded one hundred thousand naira. This amount has almost covered the flight ticket to be there. This was the most significant turnaround in preparing for the journey. This amount came from someone who believes so much in my chess journey and who, at every opportunity, wants to help. This isn’t the first time he has rendered a helping hand to me. He did when I tried to get an interview appointment at the American embassy. 

I registered for the competition and traveled to Lagos for the tournament. A tournament like this is an eye-opener. I will be competing against the best of the best for the first time. This was the first time my father was not around me when I attended a competition. He wished me good luck and told me I should enjoy every moment of my stay in Lagos.

At the National Chess Championship, Lagos

Despite not winning any trophy, I did my best in the tournament, but the highlight was meeting Tunde Onakoya. The conveyor of chess in slums, which, by extension, I have become part of by connecting with the Gift of Chess in New York City. I also met many people who told me they are my fans of the chess outreach I do with the Gift of Chess. 

With Tunde Onakoya

A month before the start of this tournament, the Gift of Chess sent me 1000 chess sets to distribute to households, local communities, schools, orphanage homes, and several other places to encourage the playing of the game of chess. So, aside from playing the game, I have also influenced children, adults, and even young parents to allow their kids to play chess because of its numerous benefits. 

We are the gift of chess

The tournament lasted for one week of continuous play. While the tournament was going on, the arrangement was also made for me to visit Ikorodu to speak chess to some of the kids and inspire them, reminding them that, no matter the situation, if you find yourself with a positive mindset today, you can achieve greatness. SCIA was putting everything together; he knew I didn’t know anywhere in Lagos and was ready to make himself available to ensure I arrived in Ikorodu safely

He told my mother and me I would use the Lekki ferry to pass through the Bayeku community on my way to Ikorodu. My mom initially expressed some fears, but he made it known to her that he, too, would also be on the boat during the journey. 

The journey through Bayeku community

I wasn’t scared because I saw this as an adventure that would eventually make for an exciting storyline for my father. My father also encouraged us on the trip and told us that traveling by boat is also a means of transportation.

Some people I haven’t met called to let me know they would be coming to Idi-Iroko to see me and have the opportunity to chat with me. 

On the day of the journey, Mr. Solomon was on the ground to ensure that he traveled with us on the ferry, at least to boost our confidence. Mr. Solomon is putting all the arrangements together on behalf of the SCIA team.

With SCIA team

The journey was alright; other people were on the boat, and it was short. We reached the other side of the river, where we continued with Keke and cars before eventually reaching our final destination. 

I was surprised by the number of people waiting for my arrival. I was welcomed with a bouquet. It was a big moment for me. People have come from other parts of Lagos to glimpse at me. Chess in Slums also sent some t-shirts to be handed over to me at the event. The founder of the Ikorodu chess club, Mr. Farouk, who has been putting everything together with Solomon, was entirely on the ground to receive me.

Now, for the day’s business, I was made to speak briefly about chess and how my journey started. What has been my source of inspiration and message for everyone present and in society? I told them how my journey began and answered their questions to the best of my ability. 

T-shirt from he Chess in Slums Africa presented to me

The next stage for me is to do chess lessons with some the students at SCIA. Seeing everyone listen to me while I demonstrated how the chess pieces move on the board was thrilling. Then, finally, we organized a mini-chess tournament where awards were presented to the winners. We took photos and did some chit-chat, and gifts were also given to me and my mom.

Group photograph with some of my fans

The original plan when returning was to use the longer route by bus, but Mr. Solomon, who looked at that journey as too hectic, had two options in mind. One is that they look for a place for us to stay overnight in Ikorodu, and two is that we use the ferry back to Lekki if the water is calm. 

Looking back at where we are coming from

Mr. Solomon brought us back to the ferry side, and when we noticed the sea was calm, we knew we could catch the ferry back to Lekki. We did, and we made it home safely. Praise God. 

This moment in my life will always be cherished, seeing how people have come to love me because of what I do. CHESS. 

Clement Urieto

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