Everyone born in a slum has more often than not a harrowing story to tell. Unfortunately, this informal settlements dot many parts of African cities. From what is termed as the largest slum in Africa –Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya to Katwe in Uganda. The horrifying story of poverty, suffering and despair is the same.
Crime is the order of the day in the slums. For a girl child, the horrors of possible attacks or the temptation to go to the streets in order to seek money for survival are only too real. Many slum children drop out of school very early and that moment marks a beginning of another cycle of poverty.
From the onset, Phiona Mutesi’s journey seemed to be heading towards the same direction. A direction that had its course already set just like the waters of the river Nile leaving Lake Victoria. Born into a very poor family, living in a shanty, food was scarce, crime was all around her, it seemed like she would end up like most those born in the slum.
However, by the stroke of luck, Phiona discovered chess. Chess, a game that many Africans have never heard of. It was a chance meeting with Robert Katende, who was working with the slum youth in an attempt to keep them busy, and then the rest is history.
She embarked on chess lessons and delved into the game passionately. Each passing day, she became better. Soon she was to be part of the Ugandan team that was competing for the African championship. They won. That was not the end. It was like opening doors, doors of possibilities that many a slum girl, (Just like Phiona) would never dream of.
Phiona would soon be jetting off to distant places, from Russia to Turkey to the USA, among many others. Chess had opened her doors and her winged dreams flew out and soared. Her achievement gave her a reason to dream.
The girl from the poorest slum in Uganda, Phiona Mutesi, the girl who was born poor has inspired a Hollywood movie.
A movie that has Lupita Nyongo as part of it’s cast. If we dream, we can achieve our dreams, as Lupita Nyongo once told us, “our dreams are valid.