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Queen Of Katwe The homeless Ugandan girl who inspired Lupita Nyong'O's film

Beneath Lupita Nyong'O's new movie is a true story born in Uganda of a teenage chess prodigy.

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Queen of Katwe play

Queen of Katwe

(Disney )

The latest movie by Oscar award winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o is titled 'Queen of Katwe'. 

The movie which stars David Oyelowo is about a chess player  Phiona Mutesi from Katwe in Uganda. After her performances at the World Chess Olympiads, she was made a Woman Candidate Master.


Despite Mutesi's father dying of AIDS and being raised in the slums of Uganda, she rose above her circumstances thanks to chess. This story might sound too good to be true, but actually, it is.

'Queen of Katwe' is a sports biopic, and Phiona Mutesi is as real as a chess piece.

Phiona Mutesi and Robert Katende at the 'Queen of Katwe' premiere in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California play

Phiona Mutesi and Robert Katende at the 'Queen of Katwe' premiere in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California


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Speaking to New York Times, Phiona Mutesi says it was hunger that led her to the world of chess. "Having been hungry for almost three days, my brother came and told us about the chess program they always had because he wanted us to go and get something to eat."

At the SOM Chess Academy, Mutesi's skills were noticed by Robert Katende who is now her coach and mentor. In 2009, she had an impressive outing at the Women’s Junior Championship in Sudan.

"Queen of Katwe" premiere play

"Queen of Katwe" premiere

(Mike Windle, Getty Images )


Her experience at the championship was indicative of how far she has come. "I’m seeing, like, showers for the first time. I’m seeing, like, flushing toilets for the first time. I had never slept in a bed by myself. I always slept by my brothers on one bed" she tells New York Times.


With enough money from chess, Mutesi who was once homeless has bought a home and land for her mum.

Mutesi will be graduating from high school this year and has her sights on becoming a lawyer. Right now, her story is being told all over Hollywood.

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