Mon | Oct 26, 2020

D.K. was like a father to me, says Maxfield man

Published:Friday | September 18, 2020 | 12:17 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Wayne Wallace, a resident of Maxfield Park, says D.K. Duncan was like a father to him, especially after his mother died.
Wayne Wallace, a resident of Maxfield Park, says D.K. Duncan was like a father to him, especially after his mother died.

Wayne Wallace is the son the late D.K. Duncan never had.

Wallace grew up in the impoverished Maxfield Park community known as ‘Frog City’, where he came under the mentorship of the politician who he says changed his life forever.

The 57-year-old recalls Duncan’s charity in reaching out to his mother and sparing her from renting a house for her five boys at Chisholm Avenue in 1976.

Duncan, member of parliament for St Andrew East Central from 1976-1980, provided the family with building material once Wallace’s mother had secured a plot of land.

“We build a house through D.K. Duncan. We got the lumber, and we never pay a cent, and the house was built,” Wallace told The Gleaner.

Even when she died four years later, Duncan continued to play the role of father figure in his life beyond burying his mom. Wallace disclosed that Duncan sent him to St Andrew Technical High but rues dropping out a year later to play football.

That regret has left him enduring life lessons about the value of education, finding redemption in making sure his own kids – a son and daughter – attended university.

“I feel so proud of them. I am proud because D.K. teach we say education is the way forward, and I push my children and tell them the same thing,” Wallace said.

“He said, ‘If the nation is not educated, the nation not going anywhere.’ At the time, we never look at it as something, but as we grow older and start see it. It did late for some like me.”

Duncan again intervened by helping him get a job in a government programme. That interest spurred Wallace to engage in political work for the People’s National Party (PNP), eventually becoming an area coordinator.

When the PNP fell to the Jamaica Labour Party in the 1980 election landslide, Wallace’s fortunes took a turn for the worse when the government programme was dissolved. But the political official was just as involved in Wallace’s life during opposition as when he was in government.

“To a person that is not your father and him concerned about you, it have a place inna my heart,” he said.

Duncan had a larger-than-life persona and projected an aura that commanded attention as he promoted housing construction and the buildout of youth clubs.

“When him come here, if you have you pot on fire, dem lock it off and come out ‘cause D.K. had this thing, not just with the constituency, but with Maxfield Park,” said Wallace, a netball coach.

The 57-year-old has nostalgic memories from the turbulent election campaign of 1980, a period of bloody violence between political factions. Duncan had been appointed the minister of mobilisation in 1977 and walked with a swagger of invincibility in an era of ideological ferment. A political meeting at Tarrant HIgh School was a prime example.

“Before the meeting finish, gunshot rang out. I remember the councillor jump in his car and splurt. D.K. stood and would not leave until every Comrade go home,” said Wallace.

“We stood with him that Sunday and say, ‘This is the type of man that we want to lead and will stand with him any day’.”

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com