If good luck shines on me as has been happening in abundance this year, I should have the good fortune of watching Queen of Katwe (see poster below) in Uganda, where the story is from, around the time of its release.
Would you believe me if I told you that this movie sprung from a simple story by ESPN writer Tim Crothers published over 5 years ago? That’s the power of a story told really well. From the article, came a book deal which then turned into a fully fledged Hollywood movie backed by Disney and directed by THE Mira Nair (of ‘Mississippi Masala’ fame).
I’ve been following Phiona Mutesi’s story from the time I read the above ESPN article and even came close to meeting her in person at the 2016 African Individual Chess Championship in Kampala last month where she was slated to represent Uganda. Alas, she fell sick and had to be replaced by someone else almost at the last minute.
I did get to meet her coach, Robert Katende, though, when he came over to my “shop” — a maroon gym bag — to see what chess products I had on sale. (Now that would have been a photo worth framing, had there been a photographer around to capture the moment.) He didn’t buy anything and wasn’t really in the mood for some networking but I was happy to have interacted with the legend.
Even if you’re not particularly a fan of chess, I urge you to go watch this movie wherever you are, as Phiona’s story — even the Hollywood version of it — is sure to inspire you.
Some day even Kenyan chess players will be in the news for the right reasons, though given our propensity for engaging in verbal battles on social media without thinking through their consequences, it might take a while. 😉