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How Did Nikita Pearl Waligwa Die? Tragic Details On Death Of Disney Star At 15 From A Brain Tumor

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How Did Nikita Pearl Waligwa Die? Tragic Details On Death Of Disney Star At 15 From A Brain Tumor

She was a Disney star with a bright future ahead of her. She was a talented actress beloved by all who worked with her, and who knew her. 

But unfortunately, on Saturday, February 15, 2020, she lost her life. 

Originally from Uganda, she rose to fame thanks to her co-starring role in Queen of Katwe. But a terrible disease would claim her life.

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But how did Nikita Pearl Waligwa die? Let's look at what we know about this terrible tragedy. 

1. How did Nikita Pearl Waligwa die? She had a brain tumor. 

Born and raised in Uganda, Waligwa appeared in the Disney film Queen of Katwe back in 2016. Just 15 years old when she passed away, it was revealed after her death that she was suffering from a brain tumor that turned out to be cancerous. And on February 15, 2020, she lost her battle.

2. Waligwa's high school tweeted about her death. 

"Fare thee well Nikita Pearl Waligwa. You were a darling to many and we have lost you to brain tumor at such a tender age. Nikita was in S.3. Rest in Perfect Peace dear," wrote the Gayaza High School in Uganda, when it was revealed that Waligwa passed away. The Gayaza High School bills itself as an all-girls academy in the African country, and it is the oldest girl's school in the country. 

3. Lupita Nyong'o paid tribute to Waligwa as well. 

Oscar-winning Nyong'o worked with Waligwa on Queen of Katwe. When the news was released about her death, Nyong'o took to her Instagram to pay tribute to her deceased co-star. "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. 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," she wrote. 

You can check out the post below. 


A post shared by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on Feb 16, 2020 at 3:44pm PST

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4. Queen of Katwe was based on a true story. 

Queen of Katwe tells the true story of a missionary in Africa who teaches young, impoverished children how to play chess. Directed by Mira Nair, Queen of Katwe starred Nyong'o, David Oyelowo, and Madina Nalwanga. Waligwa played Gloria, the best friend of Nalwanga's Phiona, the chess champion featured in the film. 

5. Waligwa almost beat the disease. 

Initial reports suggest that Waligwa first started battling her brain tumor back in 2016, shortly after Queen of Katwe was released. However, it looked like she was about to recover from the disease, because she was declared cancer-free a year later. 

6. But a new growth was found last year. 

Unfortunately, Waligwa's cancer didn't remain in remission. In 2019, a new growth was found on her brain. Because Uganda didn't have the necessary equipment to treat her brain tumor, she had to receive treatments in India. Queen of Katwe director Mira Nair helped Waligwa's family fund the treatments. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the treatments were unsuccessful. 

Our thoughts are with Nikita Pearl Waligwa's family and friends during this difficult time. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, publicist, and photographer whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, BET.com, and more.