TUCO, Machel hail Panday’s role in calypso

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former prime minister Basdeo Panday, right, and his wife, Oma, greet soca star Machel Montano at Brian Lara Academy, Tarouba, in 2017. – File Photo

The Trinbgao Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) was among many offering condolences on the passing of former prime minister Basdeo Panday.

Panday died on January 1 at 90.

TUCO said it paid homage to the late leader and recognised his pivotal role in the organisation’s incorporation.

In a statement, TUCO said it paid homage to the late leader and recognised his pivotal role in the organisation’s incorporation. Its Facebook page said, “In 1998, under Mr Panday’s leadership, the government granted TUCO control over its own affairs, solidifying its status as a national institution for the representation of calypso and calypsonians.”

It added that despite occasional criticisms of calypsonians’ perspectives and concerns about race dynamics, the organisation commended him for “fostering an environment that allowed the organisation to thrive independently.”

“As an organisation for all, TUCO respects and appreciates the late prime minister’s vision and commitment to the growth of the calypso community. His legacy lives on through the vibrant cultural landscape he helped cultivate,” it said.

A paper titled Calypso and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago 1996-1998 by late political scientist Selwyn Ryan addressed Panday’s view of calypsoes and calypsonians of that period, saying then that calypsonians were using the art form to belittle and denigrate innocent citizens and to divide the races in the country. The paper said Panday insisted his government would not sit idly by and allow this practice to continue.

Soca artiste Machel Montano also sent his condolences to Panday’s family and friends on his passing.

In an Instagram post, Montano said, “Basdeo Panday. Always a wise word, always a wide smile, always a warm hug. Rest well, Sir!!!”

His statement was accompanied by five black-and-white photos of him sitting, speaking with Panday, another with Panday embracing him and another with Panday gesticulating as Montano and Guyanese president Irfaan Ali look on. It also included a video with Montano singing the first calypso he ever sang, as a boy, and Panday saying he knew him when he was “that high” singing calypso.

Panday was also an extra in the 1964 film, Man in the Middle, which starred late American actor Robert Mitchum.