Ugandan Teen Rises From ‘Ultimate Underdog’ To Chess Star

Ugandan Teen Rises From 'Ultimate Underdog' To Chess StarShe grew up in one of the poorest spots on earth. She couldn’t read or write. But a chance encounter with a chess coach turned her into a rising international chess star, the subject of a book — and the protagonist in a future Disney movie.

‘First titled female Ugandan player’

Ugandan teenager Phiona Mutesi is “the ultimate underdog,” her biographer, Tim Crother, says. Robert Katende, a missionary and refugee of Uganda’s civil war, had started a chess program in Katwe. He offered a bowl of porridge to any child who would show up and learn. Mutesi liked chess, and started training and practicing regularly. She walked about four miles a day to practice — and to get that precious food. Soon she found herself beating the older girls and boys in the program.

Eventually, she became her country’s champion — and represented Uganda at international tournaments. In 2009, she traveled to Sudan. Then, in 2010, she boarded an airplane to Siberia. Mutesi is not one of the world’s top chess players. But she is the first titled female Ugandan player. Crothers’ book about her, “The Queen of Katwe,” was published this fall.

‘Ticket out of a hard life’

“That she’s from Africa makes her an underdog in the world. The fact that she’s from Uganda makes her sort of an underdog in Africa, because it’s one of the poorer countries in Africa. The fact that she’s in Katwe makes her an underdog in Uganda because it’s the most impoverished slum in the entire country. And then to be a girl in Katwe — girls are not treated as equals to the boys,” said Crothers.

Chess could prove to be Mutesi’s ticket out of a hard life — particularly through a project that lies ahead. Disney has optioned the rights to “The Queen of Katwe,” and is starting work on a movie, Crothers said. Mutesi told CNN:

“I’m excited. I didn’t have hope that one time, one day, I would be like someone who can encourage people, and they start playing chess.”

Were you inspired by Phiona Mutesi’s success story? Do you know of other “underdogs” who have gone through the same experience as Mutesi?

Source: CNN

Image: The Guardian

Ebola Outbreak: Uganda President Calls On Citizens To Stop Kissing

The president of Uganda is calling on people in the East African country to avoid physical contact, including handshaking and kissing, to prevent the spread of the deadly and highly contagious Ebola virus that is believed to have killed 14 people in the last few weeks.

The disease has no known cure or vaccine and some strains can kill up to 90 percent of victims within days. Ugandans are so fearful of the disease that residents in Kibaale province where the outbreak was reported said that people immediately fled the hospital after hearing patients with Ebola were there.

In a nationally televised speech today, President Yoweri Museveni said health officials are working to contain the disease to the rural district where the outbreak was confirmed Saturday, but at least one of the suspected victims was taken to a hospital in the capital city of Kampala. Now, nearly two dozen medical workers at Mulago Hospital are being held in isolation.

Dr. Anthony Mbonye at Uganda’s Ministry of Health said people are frightened because many illnesses that are common in the region, such as malaria, have the same symptoms as Ebola. He said health officials have to balance the need to inform the public while not wanting to cause unnecessary panic. In Kibaale, schools are closed and social gatherings have been cancelled.

Experts from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Uganda to advise health officials responding to the outbreak. People infected with Ebola usually have flu-like symptoms at first. They can then begin bleeding internally and externally as their vital organs shut down. Ebola was named for the river near where it was first reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Scientists believe an Ebola outbreak usually begins when a human contracts the disease from an infected animal.

Why do you think Uganda is prone to Ebola outbreaks?  What should the nation’s government do about it? Share your thoughts and opinions with us!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: Info Wars