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Lucy Sichone becomes first female Rhodes scholar to have portrait at Oxford University

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Lucy Banda Sichone Potraite

When new Rhodes scholars first visit the prestigious Rhodes house at Oxford University they are inspired by portraits on the walls of some of the great students who have preceded them.

There is the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, the former US president Bill Clinton and pioneering Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield.

Women scholars will have had a trickier time being inspired, however. Until now there hasn’t been a single portrait of a female former Rhodes scholar.

That has all changed thanks to former student Kelsey Murrell, whose campaigning means that the first ever portrait of a female Rhodes Scholar has been unveiled, more than a century after the scholarship was founded.

Zambian activist Lucy Banda Sichone’s image will take her rightful place among the other luminaries who went on to achieve great thing in the world of politics, science and the arts.

Described as “a voice of conscience” and “a great daughter of the nation,” Ms Sichone made a name for herself by vigorously challenging and chastising government officials before her death in 1998 aged just 44.

The scholarship was founded by Cecil Rhodes in 1902 to enable foreign postgraduates to study at Oxford. Widely considered one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, it was only opened to women in 1977.

The following year Ms Sichone became the first female Rhodes Scholar from Zambia.

Ms Murrell told The Independent: “She wasn’t wealthy or the head of state. I think it’s powerful to have a portrait of someone who made a difference in ways that aren’t always traditionally celebrated.”

After becoming a Rhodes Scholar in 2012, Ms Murrell noticed there were no women depicted on the walls of the University’s prestigious Rhodes House.

“I saw only, mostly white men,” said the 25-year-old who hails from the US state of Kansas. She added that she spent a lot of time in Milner Hall, where the painting of Ms Sichone will be placed.

“It’s the centre of everything,” she said. “It’s where you have balls and dinners so it’s really important that now when you walk in, you will immediately see a portrait of a woman.”

After leaving Oxford last year with two masters degrees, Ms Murrell became a deputy director at the Rhodes Project, a research charity that aims to promote gender equality through education and research.

Working with the charity and The Rhodes Trust, which awards the postgraduate scholarship to selected foreign students, her dream to have women immortalised in the halls too, became a reality.

“The Scholarship showed Lucy that life could be different,” said Ann Olivarius, her friend and Chair of the Rhodes Project, which jointly commissioned the portrait, painted by another Ms Sichone’s friends, Deidre Saunder.

Ms Olivarius added that “it encouraged her to feel that she had a responsibility to make the world better, that she was worthy and could make a difference.”

Ms Sichone went onto hold a number of government positions in her home country and founded the Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA) in 1993.

A widow, who lost her husband early, she left four children and a number of foster children when she died aged 44 in August 1998.

The portrait is chance to “honour her life and legacy,” said Ms Murrell.  “I know that for the rest of my life I’ll be coming back to Rhodes House and I’ll know that my community values the kind of work that Lucy did and that it values women and it values black women.”

Late Lucy Sichone

72 COMMENTS

    • ndobo
      Where is mumbi Phiri to learn one or two things,,,,not always trying to unzip HH and other married men's trousers!!! Lucy sichone was a solid woman,,,not these women we are left with,,, but death awe mwe,,,,
    • WANU NGWEE
      Great news indeed. Today's youth should understand UNZA was founded on the principle of Service and Excellence, most of us that graduated from there earlier have lived up to it and promoted a positive image of mother Zambia where ever we've gone. Lucy Sichone exhibited that spirit of Service and Excellence in and very courageous way, MHSRIP.
    • MB
      Great news for someone with BOTH parents from Malawi! Nyabanda was a great freedom fighter and could have been a befitting president! But I wonder out of curiosity, are there any indegineous Zambians who have excelled! KK- you know from where; FTJ- mainly from Congo! Mwanawasa- biological father was from Malawi! RB- kaya; Cobra- si Tanzania? EL- 5th Ammendment!
    • KCMBSL
      MB, delete that crap from your head. There is nothing wrong by having Zambians with such parentage. It will never stop and actually it will increase, what more with dual citizenship coming. You can't run away from the fact that a Zambia surrounded by 8 countries can have people with foreign parentage. Swallow it. You should even change your stupid constitution so that you go back to the pre-1996 clause. Your pre occupation is counterproductive because all those allegations you can't prove them....shaa!
    • THE PRINCE
      Good News, though I Remember there was some bad scandal about her, She grabbed someone's husband, one of the old politicians.. IT WAS A BIG STORY IN ZAMBIA THEN.
    • THE PRINCE
      HAAA I remember it was Kebby Musokotwane, she made the wife suffer and Died in her sins. Nevertheless Good News for Zambia..
    • Nubian Princess
      Lucy was ahead of her time and gone too soon. What an amazing feat to be the first woman portrait at Oxford! Rest well, genius!
    • Zambian Namayo
      MB that's really backward. Which Zambian is not descended from foreigners? Unless you're from Bantu Botatwe, we're all children of immigrants. Zambia is like the US, built by immigrants. History will say that Lucy was from Zambia. Never will Malawi feature in this history. She achieved all that because of Zambian education and has made a name for herself and Zambia. So take that and stuff it where you see fit!
    • Observer
      The Prince - Do not tell lies. Mr. Musokotwane did not divorce his wife. He also had children with other women including Lucy. Lucy did not grab any woman's husband like Nawakwi, but had a child with a married man. Anyway, back to the topic - a true freedom fighter Lucy - miss you so much.
    • zagaze
      i dont understand Africans who take Rhodes scholarships. How do you take a scholarship in honor of a man who was on genocidal mission to wipe out our African brothers south of Zambia. The man who said ,"Afrika is still lying ready for us; it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes: that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best, the most human, most honorable race the world possesses". Its like telling the Jewish people to take a Hitler scholarship after it is created for other non German (foreign) whites. But again this is Africa. we celebrate and praise that which kills us.
    • grant
      I deeply liked Lucy because of what she stood for - a voice for the voiceless - until she defended her nephew KC who had murdered his houseboy after he had impregnated his (houseboy's) wife. Indeed blood is thicker than water!!
    • Limit
      MB there are no so called indigenous people anywhere in the world . All people at one time or other move to other places in pursuit of progress
  1. Observer
    Can someone explain why the US is still the largest beneficiary of this money stolen from Africa to to establish the roads foundation. And it is despicable that the people at Oxford University just displayed portraits of mainly white male from the US when most of the fortune to set up this foundation was looted from Africa.
    • J J
      Education that failed to impact on the lives of ordinary people. I think the guy along kalingalinga, who is producing all kinds of stuff e.g gates, tank stands, household furniture etc, occupies a special place in my life than people like Lucy.
  2. State Counsel
    Im sure she was HIV positive like me, looking @ her image speaks volumes.That aside we will always be remembering her for her contribution in politics,science & art.The great daughter of Zambia.
    • Matako Ya Nkoko
      Most of us will choose to remember her in the positive light. It's always better to live life that way. And you are welcome to try it!
  3. Mayiji Samatowe
    WHO EVER WROTE THIS STORY DOESN'T WORK FOR lusakatimes THAT AM VERY SURE...............I KNOW THEIR STANDARDS
    • The Kimbanguist
      The story is in The Independent, a UK broadsheet Newspaper, not Lusaka Times written by graduates from Norma Jean School of Journalism of Fackson Nkandu.
    • MB
      @ Mayiji Samatowe in the literal world, we call this plagiarising or lifting some works and claiming it as your own without making reference to the source! Its no wonder quite a few people noticed and Lusakatimes still does not comment about the source! Someone even alludes to the style of writing as too good for LT! I rest my case.
    • Limit
      @Kimbaguist don't tell me that is the name of a Zambian journalism school. We must have taken monkey see monkey do to deepest levels!
  4. Nsimbi
    She was a great figure and activist in the area of governance and deserves such recognition. One aspect about her put me off though. She publicly proclaimed she was wife of late Kebby Musokotwane, prime minister and Unip stalwart. The widow of Kebby, Regina, contested the bigamous arrangement and Lucy fought that without shame. She ought to have shown respect for the rights of women. What was wrong with her remaining Nya Banda?
    • The Niche
      She was the second "wife" of Kebby today shes being honoured for what? being a husband snatcher! The mark of bravely should be holistic including being a campus of moral excellence!
  5. kubweka
    I AM PROUD TO SAY I WAS IN THE SAME CLASS WITH LUCY BANDA . BRILLIANT PERSON SHE WAS INTELLIGENT AND DEFIANT FOR HER RIGHTS.
  6. Kalok
    Vilified and humiliated in life - she has now claimed her rightful place. A beacon to all future scholars of the female gender who aspire to make a change in the world no matter what. I salute you, Lucy! You can smile down on all your struggles and achievements at last.
    • Ndime
      Thank you for describing Lucy with her rightful words. I am sure Chiluba would have been very happy and appreciative. Lucy, the lad I came to admire, love, and respcet with all my mental faculties. No words can do justice to her fight and dedication like your Kalok. For many years I have been saying this but my friends thot I was insane. I knew proper and good political insights throw her. A road well traveled Lucy. Not all will be happy with your life because you are human.
  7. Ba Folosho
    A Well deserved accolade and honour . She was fearless and an inspiration. A great loss to the Nation and Humanity at large. The Portrait and the picture may as well be of 2 differnt people however.
  8. ine wine
    this was one lady that spoke for the people at all times despite the situation at that time being more hostile to people with opposing views. in today's world she would have floored both the opposition and ruling party alike.
  9. tripoli
    FOR THE FIRST TIME AM READING NEWS FROM YOU GUYS ...WE THANK GOD FOR THE LIFE OF LUCY MHSRIP............DORA SILIYA MUST READ THIS
  10. itizi turu
    Anakazi ngawo ngawo, Lucy was a great woman & human being. With her death other strong women of that era fizzled into paper tigresses. Where is Inonge Wina of NGOCC, Emily Sikazwe of WforC, Suzanne Matale of CCZ, will excuse Rev Sampa-Bredt coz she passed on. These women were stalwarts of the governance struggle. At the height of their might they would have given parley a run over the constitution making process.
  11. Obatala Lungu shedding Jameson whiskey
    Things happen for a reason , while Lucy deserves this accolade the World out there is telling us to be as fearless as Lucy was. To stand up and fight for our rights. Not to let PF continue dehumanizing innocent citizens
    • hope
      Isn't your comment just one such stupid rant from an idiot. Check your ability to reason and declare yourself a mental patient or at least a hopeless cadre or indeed a useful idiot
  12. Tisa
    I loved what this woman did in her life. How I wish we had a place dedicated to her in Zambia, or someone write her biography I still want to know more about her. I was a teenager when she died it was like losing my best friend who spoke for justice.. Politicians hated her.
  13. Warlord
    This is great. Now my spirit can rest. I have felt a void since the demise of the late Lucy because apparently Zambians have this tendency to refuse to acknowledge icons in their midst. Lucy was such an icon, a brazenly brave woman, a lucid thinker and a top class activist who put the late Mr Chiluba on his toes. Thank you for bringing back those memories of one great person who lived and walked among us.
  14. SIDO MARK
    Lucy was a strong woman with enough education to change things an fortunately in Africa criticism is never accepted. About her social life I can not judge her ,life is a complex journey, I leave that to God. I am just saying Bravo iron lady we shall always remember you. I admired you so much though, I was a young man still studying at UNZA when you died, I could have married you if I had a chance.
    • Awe Sure
      @The Niche, you would know, wouldn't you? Always will wonder how people seem to know more about people than the people themselves. Whoever was "snatched" was a human being and not an article and certainly went into the relation willingly. Matters of the heart are complicated and involve only the two people concerned. Lucy is not here to defend herself. Let her rest in peace. Her work is speaking for her. Do not be jealous and spoil this moment. We don't and will never know about you. You do us proud, daughter of Zambia! May your legacy live on!
  15. Chanda Musyalike
    Lucy Banda was 'the Woman President Zambia needed but never had'. Thanks Ms Murrell for putting her on the map.
  16. NaJudah
    I loved Lucy in life - I miss her terribly. Beneath her public and sometimes very controversial persona was a kind sensitive woman full of humour. A woman who cared deeply about those less fortunate her. I miss her analytical mind, I miss her passion to serve her generation. She made mistakes like all of us do but that did not stop her serving her generation in her time. Rest well Lucy Sichone
  17. Huck Finn
    i remember demonstrating against Chiluba"s whims at UNZA and Lucy stood firm in denouncing the police as GOONS! Never forgotten that word!Deserved honor!!!
  18. Tulamyeba
    @Zagaze Rhodes did not want to kill only the south africans. He wanted to kill all blacks just like the whites killed nearly all the native Americans (red indians) Even this Rhodes scholarship was meant for african domination.it wasn't for black people
  19. Kasuli
    MHSRIP Mrs Sichone Great Political and human right activist.....Edith Nawaki eat your hear out, she must have inspired you too as a heron! Kebby was my guy to take over UNIP, but his relationship with Lucy was merely that of 2 intellectuals thinking alike...Abantu Ba ya!!

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