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Former President of Zambia visits Sussex

Former President of Zambia, Dr Guy Scott, and Vice Chancellor, Adam Tickell

Dr Guy Scott and PhD student, Chanda Mfula

Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell welcomed back to Sussex the former President and Vice President of Zambia, Dr Guy Scott, who studied cognitive sciences and artificial intelligence at Sussex, receiving his master's degree in 1983 and his doctorate in 1986. During his visit, Dr Scott met former colleagues and current students studying AI and computer science.

He later gave a talk to students revealing his journey from Zambia to Sussex, and the pivotal role played by Kenneth Kaunda in supporting the fight against apartheid. Dr Scott first graduated from Cambridge in 1965 and returned to Zambia, where he took the decision to renounce his British citizenship, having received a scholarship from the Zambian government. Dr Scott said: “If Zambia could do that for me what could I reasonably refuse to do for Zambia?”

On returning to Zambia he initially worked in government before moving into farming and agriculture. On a visit to London in the early 1980s, Dr Scott purchased an Apple II: “This was the beginning of my practical adventures with computers, which drew on the Mathematics I had studied at Cambridge and my lifelong interest in codes and computation. In 1982 I decided to exile my family and myself to Britain and to enrol at the University of Sussex in order to study the then new field variously called 'artificial intelligence', or 'cognitive science', or 'robotics'.

"In my years at Sussex I was privileged to work with, or learn from, such luminaries as David Hogg, Aaron Sloman, and of course Chris Thornton who is still here at Sussex today.”

Following his DPhil from Sussex, Dr Scott worked as a researcher in the Department of Engineering at Somerville College, Oxford.

After the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, Kenneth Kaunda moved Zambia towards democratic elections. Dr Scott returned home to Zambia and became active in Zambian politics again. In 2001, he joined the Patriotic Front when Michael Sata was elected President, Dr Scott was appointed Vice-President. Following Sata’s death in October 2014, Dr Scott became acting President of Zambia.

Dr Scott was hosted by Chanda Mfula, a PhD student from Zambia studying media and film, and Robert Yates from DARO. Chanda said: "As a Zambian studying at Sussex, it was a real privilege to be able to host such a distinguished Sussex alumnus. Dr Scott was a well-liked and respected politician in Zambia. He would often be found talking to rural communities, engaging with them in the challenges faced by Zambia and what he could do as a politician to serve them.”

Dr Scott presented Adam with two copies of his recent autobiography Adventures in Zambian Politics.

By: Sean Armstrong
Last updated: Friday, 12 July 2019