No more sneaking into class for statistics PhD

09 December 2002
THIS WEEK Zambian Chibelushi Musongole celebrates the successful completion of his PhD in statistical science at UCT.

This is the latest milestone in a multi award-winning academic career that started off clandestinely at age seven, when he had to sneak into classrooms.

Musongole and his nine sisters and five brothers were early academic starters, thanks to their father who insisted that they all learn to count, write numbers and recite their multiplication tables before even going to school.

When at age seven he did not meet the minimum height requirement to be allowed to go to school — a now-dated admission criterion in Zambia in the 1960s — Musongole snuck into class, but was allowed to stay when it became clear that he was the only one able to recite his tables.

Since then he has put his love for maths to good use, winning a number of awards at both primary and high schools, and at the University of Zambia and, later, the University College of Wales in the United Kingdom, where he completed a BSc in mathematics in 1984 and an MSc in statistics in 1988, respectively.

Sadly, his father will not be there to celebrate these many achievements, having passed away in 1978.

Musongole lectured at the University of Zambia from 1988 until 1996, after which a USHEPiA (University Science, Humanities & Engineering Partnerships in Africa) fellowship brought him to UCT for his doctoral studies.

Intrigued by the uncertainty surrounding stock markets — specifically its randomness — he and his supervisor, Professor Renkuan Guo, decided to characterise the “fuzzy feature” of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange's (JSE) overall index.

Not only has Musongole identified the impact of the mood of capricious investors on market indices, but has also done pioneering work on its quantification. His PhD work has also secured him a post as senior economist with the Bank of Zambia.

Alas, with his wife writing her Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) examinations on the day, Musongole will have no family members around him when he picks up his UCT colours. Compatriot Dr Henry Mulenga, based with the UCT Department of Oceanography, will be there for support, however.

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