He educated at Salisbury elementary school from 1939 to 1945, then in Natal, South Africa, from 1946 to 1949 for secondary schooling at St Francis College, Mariannhill. He studied for his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from 1950 to 1952 at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, and stayed on for a year as a lecturer in Social Psychology and Latin.
From 1953 to 1955 he studied at Ottawa University in Canada for his Master of Arts degree in political science and then moved to McGill University, Montreal, where he gained his PhD in 1958, spent a year as a teaching assistant in Comparative Government, and married a French Canadian.
In September 1958 he went to Nuffield College, Oxford, for postgraduate research on the thesis: “Economic and political aspects of British policy in central Africa as a factor in the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland”.
His United Nations career began in 1960 when he went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as economic affairs officer with the Economic Commission for East Africa. In 1963 he became representative of the UN Technical Assistance Board and director of Special Fund Programmes in Kenya. In 1966 he was appointed resident representative of the UN Programme in Kenya. Two years later he was promoted to UNCTAD as commodities director and as such played an important part at the third session of UNCTAD held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1972.
His only direct political commitment was in April 1960 when he joined a National Democratic Party delegation in London to Sir Alec Douglas-Home (then Lord Home) to register strong opposition towards any moves by the whites in Rhodesia to diminish British controls by abolishing the entrenched clauses in the constitution.