By Felix Duppong
On February 4, NU’s Black Student Fellowship (BSF) hosted a viewing of “Queen of Katwe” in HSC 104 to showcase the 2016 Disney biopic about NU student Phiona Mutesi.
Students gathered into the lecture hall, where string lights were strung across the walkways, and snacks were provided. After a brief introduction from the members of BSF, the show began. “Queen of Katwe” depicts the life and journey of Phiona Mutesi. Mutesi was born in the small Ugandan village of Katwe. Despite her and her family living in extreme poverty, through the game of chess and her amazing talent for it, she was able to build a better life for herself and her family and become a highly decorated chess player, reaching the rank of Woman Candidate Master (this is the fourth-highest player title awarded by The World Chess Federation). Her inspiring story moved writer Tim Crothers to write a novel about her story, which would become the basis for the movie. According to Mutesi, the book has significantly more details that the movie doesn’t show. Still, the movie does a great job of telling her story overall. The cast includes Hollywood talents Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, who deliver powerful performances as Phiona Mutesi’s mother and her chess coach.
Once the movie finished, Mutesi herself was there for a brief discussion panel, where she answered a variety of questions about the movie and her life. Most people, if they had a book and a Disney biopic made about them, would be going nuts and telling the world about it, but with Phiona it was quite the opposite.
“Wow, a person who was nowhere who was nothing, I come to this level now where I am inspiring other people you know, that’s like impressing and just humbling,” Mutesi said. She is currently a junior studying Business, and says she is really enjoying her life.
The month of February is Black History Month and it was evident that this event was special for BSF and especially for their president Aimee` Ingabire. A close friend of Mutesi, she said putting on this event to honor her friend meant a lot to her.
“I first met Phiona my freshman year and I watched the movie before I’d seen her, so when I saw her coming to the school like I just love her, she’s not just a student, not just a person in the movie, she’s actually a humble person, she’s taught me a lot … whenever I needed something Phiona was always there for me.”
“We wanted Black History Month to be personal,” said BSF vice-president Sarah Jemere. “Yes we can highlight African and African American icons in history, but I mean what better way to touch the hearts of NU when it’s your peers around you, where you can emphasize. These are the people you’re walking next to side by side every day in hallways, the people you’re sitting next to in class, so to premiere this movie and to show her story, I just hope that this is even a greater way to touch the hearts of NU who haven’t seen any upbringing similar to Phiona.”
During the rest of this month BSF will continue to host more intimate and personal events like this movie showing. These will be called Student Stories, where students on campus will be recognized and they will share their stories and experiences. Keep an eye out on the dates for those events.