Kenya: Lupita Mourns 15-Year-Old Star Actress in 'Queen of Katwe'

Screenshot of Nikita Pearl Waligwa.
17 February 2020

Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o has eulogized Ugandan actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa, who acted as her daughter in the Hollywood movie Queen of Katwe.

Nikita died on Saturday at a tender age of 15 at TMR International Hospital, in Naalya, Kampala following a long battle with brain cancer.


In her message of condolences, Lupita described Nikita as a sweet, warm and talented girl.

"It is with great sadness that I post about the passing of Nikita Waligwa, the sweet, warm, talented girl whom I worked with on the film, Queen Of Katwe. She played Gloria with such vibrancy," Lupita said on Instagram.

"In her real life she had the enormous challenge of battling brain cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and community as they come to terms with having to say goodbye so soon. May she truly rest in piece (sic). May it be well with her soul," Lupita further wrote.

Queen of Katwe, which was released in September 2016 in the US, has been the recipient of several awards.

The movie in based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, an uneducated girl from the eponymous slum who took up chess in 2005 and overcame overwhelming odds to become the first female winner of Uganda's junior chess championships.


Nikita was first diagnosed with the tumour in 2016, but a year later, she was declared cancer-free after undergoing a review.

However, in early 2019, Nikita was diagnosed with another brain tumor.

Doctors then said that the tumor had centered at the sensitive part of her brain responsible for the movement of limbs, eyesight, and speech.

A family member disclosed that Nikita star was undergoing a lot of pain before she passed on.

"The brain was swollen and it is exerting a lot of pressure, she was living in a lot of pain," the family member said.

Nikita had a short but full of life career as a stage, film and TV performer.

According to Ugandan media, Nikita will be laid to rest on Monday, February 17, in Kabojja, Wakiso District, in the Central Region of Uganda.

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