Panday the actor, animal lover, cricket fan

Former prime minister Basdeo Panday join cheerleaders to celebrate Trinbago Knight Riders's victory at the CPL 20/20 finals, Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba in 2017. Panday died on January 1 and his funeral was held on January 9. -
Former prime minister Basdeo Panday join cheerleaders to celebrate Trinbago Knight Riders's victory at the CPL 20/20 finals, Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba in 2017. Panday died on January 1 and his funeral was held on January 9. -

Best known as a charismatic politician and fiery labour leader, former prime minister the late Basdeo Panday also wore many other hats.

He had a love for cricket, culture, agriculture, animals and making people laugh, among other things.

Panday died on January 1, at the age of 90, and his funeral was held on January 9, at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA). His body was cremated at the the Shore of Peace in San Fernando.

When it came to music, Panday played the harmonium, tabla, dhantal and dholak – instruments which originated in India. He was taught by the late India-born TT-based Prof Hari Shanker Adesh. In his later years, Panday often said staying at home and playing these instruments remained some of his main hobbies. He had a deep love of East Indian classical music, and also enjoyed calypso, soca and chutney, being the topic of some calypsoes himself like Watchman's Panday Needs His Glasses. He also loved dancing.

Another art form he explored was acting, after studying drama at the London School of Dramatic Art and graduating in 1960 with a diploma.

He went on to act in series and movies including Saki, The Moonstone, They Made History, Man in the Middle/The Winston Affair and Nine Hours to Rama.

He also acted in plays in TT. The TT Film Company said Panday was "a man who explored the fields of the entertainment industry and political landscape."

Some also considered him a cultural activist. Under his administration, he decided the May 30 holiday Arrival Day, which commemorated the arrival of East Indians in TT, should be called Indian Arrival Day. President of the National Council of Indian Culture Independent Senator Deoroop Teemal said he was "deeply saddened" by the news of Panday's death.

"Words seem inadequate to express the depth of sorrow felt by all who admired his remarkable leadership and unwavering dedication to TT and world politics," he said.

He added that Panday's "indelible mark" on TT's history and "unwavering commitment" to the betterment of his people will always be remembered.

Panday also officially declared March 30 as Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day and also 25 acres of land in Maloney to build schools, churches, etc.

Spiritual Baptist Archbishop Barbara Burke told Newsday her community lost their "great shepherd."

Basdeo Panday and his dog Norman. -

Burke said Panday "helped us to reach where all other denominational (groups) reach because we had nothing. So there is grief in our hearts.

"To me, he was a God-fearing man, a man of peace, a man of love. When I went before him and put my cry before him, he was very sympathetic to me. We are eternally grateful to him as he showed us love and appreciation."

Panday grew up in a family of farmers – something he always took pride in. In fact, he used to work as a cane weigher at one point.

His love for farming and gardening continued over the years, and some videos of him doing that went viral in 2020 during the height of the covid19 pandemic.

His daughter Mickela shared videos of him beaming with pride as he harvested a cabbage, and he also had crops of cauliflower, eggplant and peppers.

In addition, he always spoke fondly of his best furry friend Norman the dog, also known as "Normie." Norman was a stray dog that would regularly stick around by the gate at his home. Eventually, he decided to take him in and make him part of the family. In 2020, he told Sunday Newsday, “It’s a very nice story...

"What happened is, one day, Mickela put some food outside our gate, and since that day he kept waiting for her when she returned from work every day. Eventually, we opened the gate and he came inside, and now he has actually taken over the family.”

He had said Norman enjoyed going for walks, resting and being petted.

“He’s a very loving creature and he loves to be loved. He gives me a lot of joy to see him happy," Panday said.

One of the things many remember Panday for was his wit and sense of humour.

He often made others, including his political opponents, laugh during conversation. One of his most popular quotes is: "If you see me and a lion fighting, feel sorry for the lion."

At his funeral, Mickela recalled a funny moment with him from when she was about five years old. She played a snowflake in her primary school’s Christmas play at Gulf City Mall, La Romaine.

While on stage and excitedly trying to spot Panday in the audience, she fell, but got up and continued.

After the show, she asked Panday how she did and he said, “Mick, it was great – but it was the first time I ever see a snowflake fall so hard."

“That was our dad.”

An avid cricket fan, he was also remembered by West Indies batting icon Brian Lara. In a Facebook post, Lara hailed Panday as a legend.

He recalled, "Most fondly, (I had the) privilege of his vibrant presence bought to my home when sharing a meal, watching the cricket and dancing together during Carnival. Our love for each other will remain an enduring memory."

Panday would also usually attend Lara's annual fete on Carnival Sunday.


"Panday the actor, animal lover, cricket fan"

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