Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Nigerian-Greek NBA player, has opened a new learning center targeted at increasing Igbo literacy among Nigerian youth.
Giannis’ first visit to Nigeria in July 2023 was filmed in a homecoming clip with WhatsApp, including the unveiling in Lagos.
The video, titled ‘Ugo: A Homecoming Story,’ begins with the NBA great followed by his mother, who moved from Nigeria to Greece 35 years ago.
In the documentary, the center, which was formed through a cooperation with WhatsApp, attempts to provide a loving atmosphere for Igbo children to study 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.
Several renowned Nigerians make appearances, including Fela’s daughter, Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, Hilda Baci, a record-breaking cook, and award-winning photographer Kelech Amadi-Obi.
Giannis was born and raised in Athens, Greece, and entered the NBA draft in 2013. He is one of the most decorated NBA players in history, as well as the first basketball player of Nigerian ethnicity to earn the MVP award.
In February 2022, he became WhatsApp’s first-ever global ambassador.
Watch the documentary below: