Chess at Mustard Seed
Three years ago, four chess sets were brought to Rapha House, the orphans home at Mustard Seed School. The children and house mother took to the game, enjoying it very much. We made an unannounced visit and found them on the veranda playing.
Two years ago, the Disney movie “Queen of Katwe” was brought
to the school in Lukaya. It is the true story of a street kid from
Kampala becoming chess champion of Uganda. The children
loved the movie. They laughed, cried, clapped, stomped their
feet and sang along. A professor that we knew from Uganda
Martyrs told us that he knew the real chess coach from the
movie, Robert Katende, and would give us an introduction.
From there we planned to have Robert come and give an
inspirational talk at Mustard Seed. One year ago, Robert came
with some of his trainers and spoke to our whole school holding
them spell bound.
Robert left 20 chess boards with the school and two energetic
secondary students Daniel and Devis took on the challenge of
teaching the younger ones. Devis enthusiastically began working
on a chess club logo. They want to test their skills and will
challenge you to games on the weekend.
Progress could only go so far, the students needed to learn strategy. Over the winter, we worked with Robert and planned for
an introduction class and some training sessions.
This March, Robert came himself with four trainers and worked with our
students. It is hoped that this training can continue at the beginning of every school year.
One might ask why we are trying so hard to bring chess to our school. Robert Katende will tell you that chess is a metaphor for life. We would add that the Ugandan school curriculum leaves little room for planning, organizing and analyzing. Chess is so much more than a board game, it is a holistic teaching approach that our students do not get in the classroom.