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Nikita Pearl Waligwa: Queen of Katwe stars pay tribute

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Disney

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Nikita Pearl Waligwa played Gloria, a friend of the protagonist Phiona, who explained the rules of chess

Stars of the film Queen of Katwe have paid tribute to actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa who has died at the age of 15.

Waligwa had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and died in hospital in Kampala on Sunday.

She starred in the 2016 film which was based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a chess prodigy from a Ugandan slum.

Her co-star David Oyelowo wrote on Instagram: “She was a ball of light in Queen of Katwa and in life.”

He played the role of Phiona Mutesi’s chess teacher while Lupita Nyong’o played her mother.

Waligwa featured as the character Gloria, a friend of Phiona who explained the rules of chess to her.

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

Waligwa 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 reportedly saying they did not have the necessary equipment.

In Uganda, only a fraction of patients with such serious conditions get the medical help they need due to costs.

She was given the all-clear in 2017 and went back to secondary school. However, last year, she was found to have another tumour.

Her death was announced by her school on Twitter.

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

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Media captionLupita Nyong’o talks about her role in the Queen of Katwe

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