A fourteen year old girl named Fiona brought a previously unknown Ugandan town called Katwe into a notable map in the world. A Country known for its former dictators Idi Amin and Milton Obote is now viewed in a new light from one very brilliant act of little girl raised in the slum of Uganda. The Movie, Queen of Katwe, based on true life story, tells the story of a girl with her struggling mother and siblings in a poor neighborhood. They had no father, feed from stale garbage-like food and could not afford western education. Fiona left with only her instinct and inquisitive mind soon discover a new sport, chess. Initially it was an escape route for her and her brother to socialize and have a free cup of porridge from the philanthropic and humanitarian coach Robert Katenda. Then the show became a light of hope for them as they start seeing prospect in the game of chess.
A violent-free movie takes great skill to catch a viewer’s attention at the opening scenes. The directors of Queen of Katwe, are no doubt experienced film makers who can turn an ordinary situation into entertainment and create an empathic mood in a viewer’s mind. The story of an ordinary girl in Uganda called Fiona may appear on millions of screens it serves as tools for many causes. It serves as entertainment to many; and serves as an inspirational medium for many youths across sub-Sahara Africa; it is a campaign tool for the various movements advocating for the girl-child right across the globe and a good enlightenment film for a sport which is not so popular among developing nations.
The collaboration of the world famous Disney productions and ESPN Film did not only bring together good actors but also sent a message across black Africa to the destitute that there is hope, the sub-text of the movie could be said in the acclaimed aphorism “Yes, you can” to the African youths.
The movie directors narrowly escaped being bombarded by critics when they carefully clear some controversial racial issues through camera shots and movements. The ghetto scene where the scum live and breed was made a foreground of the affluent town as camera shots caught looming sky scrapers at the background. These clever shots saved the producers and film makers from African advocates who would say the entire movie portrayal of Africa is nothing but slums and malnourished people. In a subtle form, the producers of Queen of Katwe made a deliberate effort to attract attention away from the world acclaimed sport, Soccer, which has attain global cult followership, to a game enjoyed by a few. They achieved this by showing kids who fear they would sustain injury from playing football, and diverting their interest to a more noble sport which is not only safer but also present a promising future for them. Coach Robert Katenda’s football injury and the littluns’ fear of breaking bones, coupled with the coach’s rhetoric won the children to chess game.
The film makers also did not hesitate to remind the young viewers that, success, no matter the sports you play, demands had work and discipline. We were reminded that no victory comes cheap. Fiona was naturally gifted yet she had to work on her skill late at night and whenever the opportunity presents itself. In fact, chess became her mantra. In her state of penury Fiona and her brother made them an improvised chess board where they practice at home. This frantic effort yield huge success by taking Fiona from a stinking Uganda slum to other country flying in airplane.
The Nigerian born David Oyelowo and the top model Lupita Nyong’o’s efforts was complimented by the bright teenage actress Madina Nalwanga. Camera shots and angles in the movie clearly reveals the professional prowess of the technical crew as they captured scenes of Lupita Nyong’o seating with her wares at the edge of the beautiful lake Victoria. It looked like something done by a master painter. The area view shots and the topography added colour to the poor setting of Katwe. The originality and style of Queen of Katwe is one that many movie directors and film makers, especially in Nigeria, will soon start imitating.
It is observed that media effect from that movie has start having impact on the Uganda suburbs as U.S. rapper French Montana shot one of his latest music video in Uganda. We should expect many more of such soon, as lots of humanitarians will now chose Uganda for their pet projects. Believe me, the media effect is real.