UWI’s tribute to late ex-PM: Panday a titan of leadership

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former NAR and UNC government minister Winston Dookeran, left, Mickela Panday and her father, former prime minister, the late Basdeo Panday at the national awards ceremony, NAPA on September 25, 2019. – File photo by Roger Jacob

The University of the West Indies (UWI) regional headquarters in Jamaica calls former prime minister Basdeo Panday a titan of leadership.

In a release on Wednesday, the university expressed heartfelt condolences for his passing, calling him an indomitable spirit whose legacy as a former PM echo with grandeur and reverence.

“Panday’s tenure as prime minister, visionary founder and leader of the United National Congress was marked by his unyielding commitment to the upliftment of TT.”

Vice-Chancellor of UWI, Professor Hilary Beckles, extended condolences to Panday’s family in the release, saying, “We remember Mr Panday’s support to our regional university during his term as prime minister and his notable initiatives such as the school-building and Dollar-for-Dollar programmes, aimed at enhancing education in TT.”

The release noted the university’s 2012 Conversations with Prime Ministers series, held in honour of TT’s 50th independence anniversary, saying Panday’s contribution was noteworthy and insightful. During the conversation series, Panday said education is the pathway to a better life, saying it was because of it he was able to escape the clutches of poverty. Making it a cornerstone for his governance and a guiding principle that shaped his policies.

Beckles said Panday forged his own eclectic career path, which spanned many roles, including that of a primary school teacher and a civil servant, among others, all of which set the stage for his pursuit of higher education in law, economics and drama.

“His zeal for transformative change was deeply rooted, stemming from a lifetime dedicated to battling against the odds, from the courtrooms to the heart of the labour movement, all the way to the halls of Parliament.”

Professor Indar Ramnarine, acting principal of the St Augustine Campus, said, “Panday was a titan in the political arena and his multifaceted life was a testament to his profound devotion to his country and family. He was not just a politician, but a man of many talents who inspired many. His legacy is outlined in his own words when he stated, ‘If you see me and a lion fighting, don’t feel sorry for me; feel sorry for the lion,’ encapsulating the formidable tenacity and relentless courage that defined his remarkable journey.”

Ramnarine also reflected on the 2012 conversation series, where Panday spoke about legacy, saying shaping one’s legacy isn’t a personal choice, as “history writes your legacy.” The release ended with both campuses extending its sympathies to Panday’s family, saying it hope they find comfort in the memories and lessons of his life’s work being embraced.