15-Year old Queen of Katwe Star Nikita Pearl Waligwa dies of brain tumour

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Nikita Pearl Waligwa, the talented star of the film Queen of Katwe has succumbed to a brain tumour at the ripe age of 15.

Nikita died in hospital in Kampala on Sunday after battling with a brain tumour, which had been first diagnosed in 2016 but was thought to have been successfully treated.

She became prominent after starring in the 2016 film Queen of Katwe which was based on the true-life story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess genius from the country’s slum. Waligwa played the role of Gloria, Phiona’s friend who introduced her into the chess game.


Following her sudden death, many condolence messages have been pouring in world-wide from different celebrities, amongst them, Lupita Nyong’o, who played the role of Phiona Mutesi’s mother.

“She played Gloria with such vibrancy. In her real life, she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer.” Lupita Nyong’o lamented on her Instagram.

David Oyelowo, who acted in the film as Phiona Mutesi’s chess teacher called Waligwa “a ball of light in Queen of Katwa and in life.”

Gayaza High School, where Nikita Pearl Waligwa was a student equally reacted sadly:

 “You were a darling to many and we have lost you to a brain tumour at such a tender age,”.

After being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016 the director of  Queen of Katwe Mira Nair reportedly embarked on an aggressive campaign to raise money towards the treatment of Nikita Pearl Waligwa in India.  She could not receive the much-needed treatment in Uganda because of the lack of necessary equipment, according to Ugandan doctors.

 Nikita Pearl Waligwa was declared tumour free in 2017 and she went back to secondary school. Sadly, the tumour resurfaced last year, and unfortunately, Nikita Pearl Waligwa, the talented star could not reap the results of her hard work.

Alas, the malicious hand of the death quickly snatched away another African genius from the promising bud.

Photo: skynews