Five things I loved about the Queen of Katwe movie!
Sooooo who has seen the movie? Let me first clarify that this blog is coming very late. This movie has been in the theater for about a month i believe. Well i saw it with my sister two weeks ago. Listen, i couldn't hold back tears. Why didn't anyone warn me to take a box of tissue with me ? In my city, it was only showing in one theater and the only other theater showing the movie was an hour away hmm mm interesting?!? right?! Anyways if you havent seen the movie yet, and you're African, what are you waiting for? Perhaps, i can convince you with this blog!! So here are five things i loved about the Queen of Katwe.
First and foremost, (correct me if i am wrong) it is a mainstream movie set in Africa precisely Uganda that is not about warfare, has an entire African cast, and focused on intellectual achievements of a female protagonist. Such a pleasure to see a different narrative of the continent.
Second, the MUSIC!!! I caught myself more than a couple of times doing the shoki [a Nigerian dance] in the movie theater. This is a big deal considering that Afro Pop is slowly but surely getting recognized in the States. It is a great exposure for Afro Pop.
Third the narrative of the widowed African mother. Single mother Nakku played by Lupita Nyong'o cautiously watches over her four children having lost her husband. Selling corn, her family barely pull through in their world where women are limited to two options: sell food which they mostly procure via credit or find themselves a sugar daddy. Without giving too much away, one of my favorite scenes where she dresses up in her most valued cultural attire and off to the market she went to sell them. The cloth was a cherished gift from her mother. She almost drifted from her main purpose of selling the cloth but she maintained her stance on her belief and dignity. If you watched the movie, you would get the point i am trying to make. That scene reminded me a story my mother told me of her mother (my grandmother) during the Biafran war. My grandmother sold and gave away her priced akwete and george cloth (Igbo cloth ) to feed her, her siblings and to prevent her husband, my grandfather from being taken as a prisoner of war.
Fourth, I love the idea that it isn't the quint-essential success story that is more than often romanticized. People want to eat but don't want to do the dishes or wanting what the next person has but not willing to do the work. The movie Queen of Katwe covers a period between 2007 when the character Phiona first discovered the game of chess and 2011 when she traveled to Russia for the International Chess Olympiad at age 14. Evidently, it took her years to master the game which included continuous practice and learning how to read. This was my sister's teff's favorite. She's an avid believer of shutting out the noise and focusing on perfecting her craft.
Lastly, my dear Africans are very much aware of the drawn out "tradition" of the white westerners or organizations playing the mentor or savior role to the underprivileged. It was more than exciting to see that role played by David Oyelowo's character. Coach Robert Katende symbolizes the future of Africa if we (Africans) invest in the continent. We are our own savior. We can also help by supporting movies told by us for us otherwise we'll have to deal with however we get portrayed. Like the Igbo proverb that goes " Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
I know the title says FIVE but i had to let this out of my chest!! There's a scene where the coach and students travel by air from Uganda to SUDAN a whole other country in Africa. Emphasis on BY AIR and COUNTRY!! I am pretty sure most of my African brothers and sisters in the diaspora have been asked silly questions like "how did you get here?" "do you speak african?" or statements like "i am going to Africa" as if it's a country. Sadly, we get it mostly from African Americans. Not trying to be a prick but this is real and in this day and age nobody should ever ask such questions. I remember a good friend of mine in college during the Mid term break (which usually last like five days at most) was asked are you driving back to Africa for the breaks? Him being the comedian retorted "yeah with Moses and his long staff to part the seas and ocean; no Egyptians allowed." I almost croaked from laughing. Thankfully, i have observed a reduction of ignorant questions and remarks. We are only as blind as we want to be my brothers and sisters. Thank you Maya Angelou for that beautiful quote! Drop your comments below!
Until next time BeYOUtiful xx