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News > Passing of friends > Robert Molteno (1960O) 1943 - 2022

Robert Molteno (1960O) 1943 - 2022

Robert passed away on the 31st January 2022

Robert Vincent Molteno

Years at Bishops: 1951 – 1960

Wife: Marion Irene (born Marquard) (Married 1966)

College: Ogilvie

May (b. 1971)
Sharon (b. 1974)                

Omni (b. 2001 to Sharon)
Isla (b. 2006 to May)
Theodore (b. 2009 to Sharon)

Academic and Training (after Bishops)
University of Cape Town – BA (Hons) (Law) (1965)
University of Manchester – M.Sc. (Econ.) (1967)
Plumpton Agricultural College – Agricultural Labourers Certificate, Part 1 (1977)

Research Fellow and Lecturer at the very new University of Zambia in Lusaka (1968 – 1976)
Visiting Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex (1976)
Managing Editor, Zed Books Ltd, London (1977 – 2005)
Chair, Publications Committee, International African Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (2005 – 2008)

Council member, the Royal African Society (
Council member, the Caine Prize for African Writing (
Trustee, International African Institute (
Member and active in Friends of the Earth. 

My passion is campaigning on climate change which is the issue which will determine the quality of life of our children and grandchildren, and indeed the future of the planet as a habitable and wonderful place.

I am also researching and writing the story of the Molteno, Murray and related families whose members, starting from Milan in the middle of the 18th century, spread to England and Scotland, South Africa and Kenya, Hawaii in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, and the United States. What happened to these families across the past 8 generations holds up a fascinating mirror to the extraordinary changes the world has gone through since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

What I love most, apart from friends, is the English countryside – walking in it, lunching in its pubs, just being there; it is what brings me peace of mind.

Other memorable activities and moments over past 50 years
The excitement of living in Zambia, and being part of the process, in the early years of its independence when optimism about creating a better world still reigned!
Two months in solitary confinement (apart from the interrogations) spent in Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison, which gave me a lifelong conviction about the inhumanity of all incarceration.
The friendships, energy and togetherness that came during the time when, as Chair of the Wandsworth Association of School Parents, we campaigned locally to save our state schools in Inner London.
The long slog over quarter of a century when Zed Books tried to give effective voice to the courageous and free-spirited social campaigners and engaged intellectuals who, against enormous odds throughout the ‘developing’ world,  struggled to make their countries more democratic, more confident and independent, less poor, and with hope and strategies for a better future.

Philosophical comments
My years at Bishops were not the best time of my life. My hopelessness at all sports didn’t help build my confidence! But the last two years at College were wonderful intellectually. And I took away from the school some lifelong friends; the knowledge that one must never be intimidated; the wonderful diversionary power of humour; as well as some values that I hope have infused the way I have tried to live my life. At the risk of sounding pompous, we live in this world to enjoy it; to understand it; and to make it a better place for all of us.

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