At 12, he discovered how divisibility by 7 in Mathematics is made possible, and at ten, another scored 100 on a university test, Nigerian children are proving that age is not a barrier to excellence.

Contrary to the narrative about Nigeria and its citizens for a long time which depicts the country as a hub of corruption and poverty, events in recent times have proven otherwise.

Nigerian children are changing the narrative. Here are some exceptional child prodigies of Nigerian origin in the diaspora.

Discovering divisibility by 7 in Mathematics

Chikadibia Ofili, a 12-year-old from Anioma- Delta State, received the ‘TruLittle Hero Awards’ for discovering a new mathematical formula and was conferred a special award in recognition of the feat.

Mary Ellis, head of Westminster Under-School, and Chika’s teacher confirmed the development, and said the boy made the discovery on November 19, 2020 in the UK while solving his holiday assignment.

“The little mathematician just discovered a new formula for divisibility by 7 in Maths,” Ellis said.

According to the report, Ellis had reportedly given the young man a book, which contained several divisibility tests used to quickly work out if a figure is exactly divisible by the numbers 2 to 9, however, the book had no memorable test for checking divisibility by 7.

“He realised that if you take the last digit of any whole number, multiply it by 5 and then add this to the remaining part of the number, you will get a new number.

“And it turns out that if this new number is divisible by 7, then the original number is divisible by 7. What an easy test!” Ellis said.

“The opposite is also true in that if you don’t end up with a multiple of 7, then the original number is not divisible by 7.” she adds.

Nigerian chess prodigy at 12

Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a 12-year-old Nigerian granted asylum in the United States of America rose to stardom at age 8 for his chess skills, winning a New York State championship while homeless.

He beat 73 opponents and clinched the New York State chess championship for his division. At the time, in 2019, he was living with his family in a homeless shelter.

They had moved to the USA from Nigeria in 2017, seeking religious asylum after the family, devoutly Christian, was threatened by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Since Adewumi breakout state championship, his trophies have multiplied. At 10, he was named a national master, and his current title is FIDE master, a prestigious designation awarded by the international chess governing body. Along with his chess accolades, his life story became the subject of a book.

Matthew Ingber, a legal team member that worked pro bono on the Adewumi family’s asylum case, said he first learned about Tani’s situation in the summer of 2021.

“It was such a compelling story,” said Ingber.

Belief in oneself makes the difference

Esther Okade, a 10-year-old British-Nigerian mathematics prodigy is currently enrolled in an online college programme.

At the age of three, Esther cried after school because her schoolmates could not even let her talk while in school. So, her Nigerian-born parents started homeschooling her, and her intrinsic gift of mathematics was quickly apparent.

Esther took her first British high school qualification exam at six years old, but she only got a C. She received an A- when she retook the examination a year later, proving to herself that she could accomplish anything through hard work.

At that time, Esther started asking her mother to enroll her in an undergraduate online programme. She had to beg her parents for three years before they would enroll her since they feared it was too advanced.

Their fears proved unfounded, though. Esther recently scored a 100 on one of her college-level mathematics tests, and she plans to graduate in two years and continue in a Ph.D. programme in financial mathematics.

Esther’s parents have established a foundation that is building a school in their homeland, Nigeria.

Resilience in the face of opposition

Saratu Garba, an 11-year-old out-of-school girl was offered a scholarship by the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE), a World Bank-supported project for her mathematics genius.

The Kano State-born girl’s arithmetic prowess recently went viral on social media platforms, with her ability to quickly provide mathematical solutions attracting the admiration of many.

Saratu revealed that she dropped out of school in primary four after which she embraced street hawking.

“I am good at mathematics, whether addition, subtraction, division or multiplication. I can calculate numbers in millions of heads, without writing or using a calculator.

“I left school because of bullying. My peers used to call me names that I detested,” she said.

Speaking on Saratu’s mathematical prowess, Aliyu Yusuf, AGILE project communication officer, said that the project’s national office had directed its Kano office to identify the girl and enroll her in school.

“Coincidentally, the Kano AGILE project team was on an advocacy visit to the five emirate councils in the state, with a view to soliciting support, being critical stakeholders in the promotion of adolescent girls’ education.

“During the team’s visit to Gaya Emirate Council, the girl and her parents were invited to the emir’s palace.

“Representatives of the state ministry of education and the AGILE team briefed the Emir Ali Ibrahim-Abdulkadir, on the intention of the project to shoulder the educational responsibilities of the young girl,” he said.

Innovative and ambitious mind

Basil Okpara Jnr, a 9-year-old has used his innovative and curious-mindedness to build over 30 mobile games, while most children of his age are spending all their time playing.

Okpara does this from his home in Lagos, using a free programming application. This app, called scratch 2, enables users to create games, animations, and stories online or offline.

Basil’s love for games started when he was only four years old, according to his father, Basil Okpara Snr.

“I bought him a tablet when he was 4 years old because I saw that he was always grabbing phones to play games with. He played candy crush and temple runs a lot,” Okpara told CNN.

Furthermore, his father said; “His interest in games changed to just playing them to wanting to build them at age 7 after his father scolded him for playing too much.

“There was this day he was on the tablet, as usual, he was so carried away with the game that I got upset with him. I said to him, ‘you are always playing games, can’t you think about building your own games so others can play yours too?’ I did not know he took it seriously.”

Basil Jnr told CNN, “I learned how to build games at a boot camp. Now, I build to keep me busy when I am bored.”