Tributes for steel pan icon Victor ‘Babu’ Samuel

Victor ‘Babu’ Samuel
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The country’s steel band community has been plunged into mourning following the death of pan icon Victor ‘Babu’ Samuel.

Samuel who had been ailing for some time passed away yesterday afternoon. His family announced his death at around 4.30pm Tuesday.

A fundraising event dubbed ‘Pand’garden’ was recently held at the Botanical Gardens to support his medical expenses.

Samuel suffered a stroke two years ago which took a toll on his ability to play pan.

In March, he had received an award for introducing the quintessential Caribbean instrument to the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda’s marching band.

Samuel was also recognised as being one of the top pannists in the country, having been a member of the Halcyon Steel Orchestra since the 1970s.

Acclaimed local musician Khan Cordice told Observer that the local pan fraternity would feel the effects of his loss for a long time to come.

“It’s a shocker. I don’t think you can ever prepare for a time like this. He is probably one of the most prolific steel pan arrangers we have here in Antigua and Barbuda. He was arranging for numerous bands, not only here in the country but across the region,” Cordice said.

He also highlighted the grief that will be experienced by many of the country’s pan players.

“We are going to mourn this loss. Not having Panorama this year, and we know why, I think it’s another burden on the pan community,” he added.

Also paying tribute was Culture Minister Daryll Matthew who wrote on Facebook, “When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him lies on the paths of men. Say not in grief ‘he is no more’ but in thankfulness that he was.

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. Sleep well fallen soldier,” he added.

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