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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Phiona Mutesi—The Queen of Katwe

((  Written By: Mimi Tsiane  ))  I am always inspired
by young talent; namely young African talent. Which is why I was thrilled to read about this young lady.  Raised  in Katwe, a slum in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, Ugandan teenager Phiona Mutesi is a rising international chess star, the subject of a book The Queen of Katwe by author Tim Crothers, and the protagonist in a future Disney movie (the company optioned the rights to The Queen of Katwe).

According to CNN, Mutesi’s father died when she was 3, and the family suffered.  She states, "I was living a hard life, where I was sleeping on the streets, and you couldn't have anything to eat at the streets.  So that's when I decided for my brother to get a cup of porridge."  Robert Katende, a missionary and refugee of Uganda's civil war, had started a chess program in Katwe.  He offered a bowl of porridge to any child who would show up and learn.  Mutesi received food and a new lease in life.

Almost 7 years since Mutesi met Katende she is travelling all over the world and winning chess tournaments.   According to The Queen of Katwe, "By the age of 11, in 2007, Phiona was her country’s junior chess champion and at 15, her country’s national champion. In September of 2010 she traveled to Siberia, just her second time ever on an airplane, to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team chess event. While there, Phiona proved herself to be on par with the greatest players in the sport and her goal is to one day become a gramdmaster, the most elite title in chess, and to blaze a trail out of Katwe that other children in Robert’s chess community can follow."

Now that's inspiring!  The Queen of Katwe is available at Amazon, iTunes, and other booksellers.

((  Photo Credits:  CD Cover Art  ))