I really wondered how interesting a movie about the game of chess played in Africa, focused on a young girl could be. Out of curiosity and because I really like Lupita Nyong’o, I saw the movie, Queen of Katwe. Honestly, it was beyond my expectations. I loved the way Queen of Katwe made no apologies for their impoverished country nor their impecunious people. No victims here, just extremely hard working, very poor souls, trying to ensure they had food and shelter every day for their families. This was a stretch for Disney as they tried to maintain a balance between showing a normal day to day happy and hopeful existence along side crime and extreme poverty. My emotions “runneth over” throughout the entire movie. There were many highs and lows. A mother of five children lived in what I’d describe as a shack and all who were old enough, sold maze and other items to make money for food and to pay rent. The children didn’t attend school because school wasn’t free or available. Times were particularly hard because Nakku Harriet’s (Lupita Nyong’o) husband had recently passed away. Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is an especially difficult and constant struggle for a single parent with five children to manage alone. One daughter, Night (Taryn “Kay” Kyaze) had already gone astray, and Nakku was trying desperately to keep the rest of her children in tact. One son, Benjamin (Ethan Nazario Lubega) and one daughter, Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) met the coach of a local ministry, Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) who also played football/soccer and taught chess. This is what Queen of Katwe is all about. Robert who is a missionary, had a whole class of semi-quasi gifted chess players who all had the potential of becoming much more. The story centers around Phiona and her younger brother Ben, who stood out among the rest, especially, 10-year old Phiona, a Ugandan chess prodigy.
Queen of Katwe, a true story, ended up being one of the most provocative stories I’ve seen this year. I absolutely loved it. The coach was brilliant, and women can learn a thing or two about how to handle and treat a husband from the coaches wife, Sara Katende (Esther Tebandeke). Phiona’s success in local competitions and tournaments opened the door to a bright future and a golden opportunity to escape from a life of poverty.
As usual, I don’t want to tell all and spoil the story so I will urge you to go and see this fantastic movie for yourself. There is so much more to be told. Kudos to Mira Nair, for brilliant direction of Queen of Katwe, which is more than worth your time and money to see. You will learn something about African culture and the despair turned to hope through GOD given talents and hard work. A win is exciting and breath taking for anyone but a win that takes you from a world so close to rock bottom and delivers that hope you’d been praying for is like none other!