The amazing story of the amazing Phiona Mutesi, the young woman who became an Ugandan chess phenom, who’s journey began in a slum in Katwe. When she was 9, Phiona and her family were living on the street. Having been hungry for close to three days, her brother came and told her about a chess program they always had because he wanted them to go and get something to eat. At the SOM Chess Academy, Mutesi said she went from going there just for food to showing up to play chess.
Mutesi’s mentor and coach Robert Katende, who uses chess as a way of improving the lives of children living in Ugandan slums stated that while Mutesi’s skill for the game was quickly apparent, even he was surprised by her victory in the 2009 women’s junior championship in Sudan. This is the point where he got serious about Phiona and knew that her chess expertise went pass anything he thought of.
For Mutesi, the competition was a dreamlike experience in more ways than one. For the first time, she saw showers, running water, flushing toilets, and a bed that she was able to sleep in. She went on to compete in other chess tournaments in Africa, Turkey, and Russia. However, she feels her biggest accomplishment is when she earned enough money to purchase some land and a home for her mother and the rest of her family.
Mutesi graduated high school and her goal is to go to university so she can become an attorney. Her amazing story is the subject of a Disney film “Queen of Katwe” starring Lupita Nyong’o as Phiona, David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga. If you are looking for a movie that is not only entertaining but uplifting as well, don’t miss this one.