Nikita Pearl Waligwa, the 15-year-old Ugandan actress who starred in the movie Queen of Katwe, a Disney film about a chess prodigy from a Ugandan slum, has died at a hospital in Naalya, Kampala, confirmed media reports. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the year 2016.
Waligwa is renowned for the role of Gloria in the film which also featured the Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o. The movie was about a chess prodigy from a Ugandan slum. The actress reportedly mobilised people to help fund her treatment in India, after the Ugandan doctors were quoted saying that they did not have the necessary equipment to treat the actress in the country.
Nikita was given the all-clear in 2017, but last year she was found to have another tumour as the disease spread further making the condition fatal. The director of the movie, Mira Nair expressed condolences on the actress’s demise along with several fans that are grieved by the news.
Mira recalls that the Ugandan actress had once called her out of nowhere, and she had invited her over for tea. Mira told the media that on the very day, in the bamboo grove of her garden, the two made a pact that they were going to make a movie about Phiona Mutesi, a chess champion from the Kampala slum of Katwe. And they were going to get Disney, the home of Star Wars and Marvel animated movies to make it.
Nikita’s movie, Queen of Katwe, is reportedly centred around a family that has a happy ending amid a heap of challenges. It examines the poverty, violence, and racism the protagonists face every day. According to the director, it was a radical film for Disney in many ways as it featured beauty and barbarity side-by-side.
(With inputs from agencies)