New Vision (Kampala)

5 April 2013

Uganda: Phiona Mutesi Meets Oprah

Photo: Amy Fallon/IPS
Phiona Mutesi began playing chess because she wanted the free meal the programme offered.

UGANDA'S Chess fraternity is on the brink of history as teenage chess sensation Phiona Mutesi meets Oprah Winfrey, the legendary American talk show host later today.

She becomes the first Ugandan to be hosted on the show. Mutesi and her guardian Robert Katende are guest speakers at the 2013 Women in the World Summit: "Stories and Solutions" in New York.

Augustine Lwanga, the Uganda Chess Federation (UCF) treasurer notes that Mutesi's success has motivated a new class of strong female chess players in Uganda adding that many young players are working hard to emulate her success on the global scene.

"This is a very big confidence boost for the young generation of chess players," he said.

Lwanga added that outstanding players like Mutesi have helped secure corporate sponsorship and FIDE support for the development of the sport in Uganda.

The 16-year-old will speak to a gathering of top women executives from around the world alongside Russian Garry Kasparov -the former World Chess Champion.

Mutesi had a game with Kasparov at 4pm on Thursday, becoming the first Ugandan to play against a world champion.

"Ugandan Phiona Mutesi is perhaps the world's most unlikely chess champion," reads a statement from the summit agenda.

"Having grown up in one of Kampala's poorest slums, she is now a national champion and one of a growing cadre of girls benefiting from the skills and confidence that training in chess can bestow upon young people," it adds.

Mutesi's time slot will be moderated by Norah O'Donnell, the co-host of popular American show CBS This Morning on CBS News.

Mutesi is also scheduled to meet American billionaire Bill Gates sometime this year - a meeting that could also define the future of chess in Uganda.

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