What Chess Game can do for a Whole Community – You must see this movie – Queen of Katwe

The “Queen of Katwe” is a Disney Movie, a biographical sports movie situated in Uganda produced in 2016. It was written by William Wheeler and directed by Mira Nair.


It is the true life story of young Phiona Mutesi acted by Madina Nalwanga but her mother’s story struck a chord in me as well. Personally, in Phiona’s mother, I saw a woman who sacrificed so much to give her struggling family the best she could. This woman though a widow denied herself the opportunity of accepting advances from men who wanted to be romantically involved with her. She protected her children as best as she could from predators even though she was illiterate. Phiona’s mother ends up selling her best clothe something she inherited from her ancestors just to buy oil for the lamp Phiona needed to study to understand how to play chess better.

The Movie is laced with humor, pain, human suffering mixed with hope and then here comes the rise out of all of these. It’s a journey through the story of young struggling Phiona, her siblings, and their mother. She had lost her father when the story begins. She and her brother hawk maize in the ghetto streets of Ugandan. Theirs was not a pretty life; many times they go hungry and have to make do with watery soup or porridge.
Phiona wondered why many bad things happened to their family and one day asked her sister about this thought of hers. “God does not care about us one way or the other”, was Phiona’s older sister’s response. She had taken the option of running away with a man whom she believed was the way of escape from her family’s poverty-stricken life.

In my opinion, God did show up by allowing a meeting between Phiona, her brother, and Robert Katende, a missionary while hawking one day. That was how Phiona’s journey into the world of Chess began. Phiona only had the heart to learn and soon her thinking skill was sharpened. She soon became a force to be reckoned with as she won one game after another. Just when life began to look up for Phiona, her brother is hit by a motorcycle, they lose their home and the family started sleeping in the open.

It seemed like bad things were really meant to sink this family. Someone who wouldn’t give up on her stood by her, coach Robert Katende. He kept coming back, encouraging and pushing Phiona until she was fired up again to continue to play chess and enrolled her and her brother in school. Soon she became a hero in Katwe and a great Chess player who won many games.

It was a long journey, Phiona’s Mutesi success didn’t just happen overnight it took time. With persistence, we can all achieve.

The Queen of Katwe is a sports drama which paves a pathway of escape from poverty

The character Robert Katende played by David Oyelowo was a very passionate man who wished to do more for his wife and baby. But when he got a job that pays better gives it up for teaching the children in Katwe slums how to play chess.

His home was open to many of these children.
He had an Injury that should stop him from playing football but he sacrificed getting injured again and played to get money to enroll the children in the inter-schools competition.

Others saw dirty children, uncultured and unruly children but Robert Katende saw children with great talents and the next world champions.

Actors really took on their role…I find the Ugandan English accent really unique and funny not in a derogatory way just pleasantly nice to my ears.  I enjoyed the interaction between Phiona’s mother  played by Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo who featured as Robert Katende the missionary. They both really interpreted their roles well. Madina Nalwanga who is the heroine, Phiona is a character to watch. It’s hard to believe this was her first movie.

Queen of Katwe – Is an inspiring and moving story of Hope

There is something in everyone
• Follow your passion just like Robert Katende
• Help other people up
Never give up on your dream
• Humility keeps your head in shape as a hero
• You might win today but keep at it and you will win
• Everyone needs someone to believe in him/her
Though sorrow may last for a night or more but Joy comes

Photo Credit: Poster of the movie Queen of Katwe – Disney

Adebisi Adetunji (C)


2 thoughts on “What Chess Game can do for a Whole Community – You must see this movie – Queen of Katwe

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