Farewell Milo, thanks for everything fine fella....
posted on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 12:50 PM
Author: Sanjay Kumar
Everyone greeted the news of the death of Moses Utali (known to all and sundry as ‘Milo Small’) with much sadness. None, more so than me. He helped me shape MIKA when the agency was still in the embryonic stage of development in the ‘90’s. Most of the time I was getting things wrong with the business plan. If I ever needed a mentor it was then.
I met Milo in Bangkok in 1994 during a short summer vacation travelling through Thailand and Nepal with friends. Milo was a guest lecturer at Mahidol University in Payathai. We met at a bar one rainy night, both feeling sorry for ourselves, and clicked immediately. The attraction was mutual and immediate. I spent the entire holiday with him talking endlessly about business, and during one of our regular meandering conversations I asked him to help me organise my fledgling business ideas.
Back in London we decided to share a flat in Camberwell, South London and during the Christmas vacation Milo went about reorganising the MIKA business plan with a definite sense of purpose; dissecting my mistakes and success with his forensic intellect; demonstrating his financial acumen, and always the words were delivered packaged in his legendary dry wit. Milo and I made a pact that he would join MIKA if I taught him Hindi. It was an arrangement that worked very well indeed. It is a matter of great pride that at the time of his death Milo was fluent in Hindi.
Milo was born in Durban, South Africa in 1947. His mother was an Indian communist, a member of the bania caste from Gujarat and his father was Zulu, of minor royal descent. Milo's family traces its ancestry to Dingiswayo, the legendary Mthethwa chief. His father was from KwaZulu-Natal and was associated with Gatsha Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the founder of South Africa’s Inkatha Freedom Party. Throughout his life Milo was dedicated to the causes of the Zulu Nation. He infected everyone with his love of Zulu culture and music.
He was 16 years old when he arrived in England in 1963 to live with his maternal grandmother after his parents were killed during the notorious race riots of the Soweto Uprising.
After higer education Milo moved to Switerland to live with his mothers relatives. He studied psychology at the prestigious Universite de Geneve and trained as an occupational psychologist. Milo was one of the first European students to complete the MA in Counselling from Webster University.
In 1989 Milo set up his Geneva-based private consultancy specialising in business psychology and holistic methods of people management. Following the death of his life partner in 2005 Milo devoted most of his time running training workshops for grass-roots HIV/AIDS organisations in Africa and Asia. He was a tireless advocate of the Motherland Project, a heritage development project in Africa.
Milo was instrumental in developing our in-house marketing and PR solutions, incorporating the best procedures and practices of Europe and Asian business houses. I was delighted when he agreed to join MIKA and help develop our particular brand of Eurasian marketing solutions. He loved India and travelled to the subcontinent 26 times and worked closely with Prakash Omari in building foundations for our business in Bangalore, particularly in establishing close links with the financial press in Karnataka.
Milo suffered respiratory complications at his home in the early hours of Thursday 19th June and rushed to Murchison Central Hospital. His funeral will be held in KwaZulu-Natal where he will be buried next to his parents and brother, Noah.
Milo is greatly missed. I will forever cherish the long Kensington weekends of chess, South African food, and expansive conversations against the background of Zulu drums. I could listen to Milo talk about Africa all day long.
He was a great friend of mine, inspired teacher and lateral-thinking business mentor, as well as many other things inbetween.
Sunt lecremae rererum. In piam memoriam
Sanjay Kumar, Brighton