Last Updated on August 12, 2020

Queen of Katwe star dies at 15

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Nikita Pearl Waligwa, a Ugandan child actress who starred in Disney’s movie, Queen of Katwe has died at the age of 15.

The teenage star of Queen of Katwe died of brain tumour, according to Gayaza High School, which she had reportedly attended since 2018.

Waligwa, who played the role of Gloria, a younger friend of the main character in the 2016 film, was “a darling to many”, the secondary school wrote on Twitter.

Local media reports that Waligwa had first been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016. After making a recovery a year later, she was found with another tumour.

The news of her death has prompted an outpouring of grief on social media. Users are expressing their condolences and recalling her role in the movie directed by Mira Nair and filmed in Katwe, a slum in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

In an obituary published by New Vision a Ugandan Daily newspaper, Nikita Waligwa is described as a child who was not only a star but an inspiration to every young girl.

Queen of Katwe was based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, an uneducated girl from the eponymous slum who took up chess in 2005 and overcame overwhelming odds to become the first female winner of Uganda’s junior chess championships.

By the age of 17, she was representing the country at international competitions.

The film was received favourably in Uganda, where young people with no acting experience shared the limelight with stars like Kenya’s Oscar-winning actress and Britain’s David Oyelowo.

One of those Ugandans was Nikita Waligwa, who as Gloria explained to Phiona the rules of the game in the film.

“The small one can become the big one,” is one of Gloria’s memorable quotes from Queen of Katwe.

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