Queen of Katwe star Nikita Pearl Waligwa passes away
The young Ugandan actor Nikita Pearl Waligwa was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016
Queen of Katwe star Nikita Pearl Waligwa, who appeared in the 2016 Disney biographical drama, has passed away at the age of 15.
According to a Ugandan media report, Pearl Waligwa had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The 2016 film was based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, who took up chess aged nine despite not being in school and went on to compete in international tournaments. Queen of Katwe starred Lupita Nyong'o as her mother and David Oyelowo as her chess teacher.
Waligwa played the role of Gloria, a friend of Phiona who explained the rules of chess to her.
She was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016 and Queen of Katwe director Mira Nair reportedly mobilised people to help fund her treatment in India, with Ugandan doctors quoted as saying they did not have the necessary equipment. She was given the all-clear in 2017 but last year was found to have another tumour.
Mira expressed her condolences on social media
Farewell dearest Nikita. The heart breaks to see you gone, too young, too soon. You were such a fighter but this disease was incurable. The Pioneers and the Kool Kats of Katwe will always miss you, your light lives on in #QueenOfKatwe
— Mira Nair (@MiraPagliNair) February 17, 2020