Chester Francis-Jackson, Gleaner Writer
It has been said of Dr D.K. Duncan and Beverley Anderson-Manley that they are two extraordinary individuals who have led extraordinary lives!
It would be difficult to argue with this position as Dr Duncan, in his capacity as the firebrand minister of mobilisation of the People's National Party (PNP) administration of the '70s, was front and centre of the tumultuous political changes of the day. Beverley Anderson-Manley, as wife of the then prime minister, was a firebrand activist wife. Not only was she likened to Eva Peron by many of her detractors, but more important, she was the symbol of liberation and aspiration for the majority of Jamaica's working class and the socially upwardly mobile women who prior to her arrival on the scene had seen their roles and status as being mere bit players incapable of effecting change, in their own lives, let alone nation!
Enter Beverley Anderson-Manley and all of that changed. As activist wife, her wardrobe, her language, her every appearance, and every nuanced speech and action became not just perceived as protest in motion but was demonstrative of the very personification of the changing of the status quo. Needless to say, and this is framing it rather mildly, was much to the chagrin of those who held the status quo near and dear.
Along her path of political self-discovery and as social agent provocateur, Anderson-Manley met her soulmate and together, embarked on a political odyssey of love, a love story that when it should have been told, would make for one of the greatest romances of modern times.
That Duncan and Anderson-Manley shared a love of epic proportions was no news, what was news for many was the fact that the two not only shared their love and passion for more than 30 years, but that the two had never taken the traditional walk down the aisle to formally cement their union.
But Saturday, January 21, the couple, in what was clearly a celebration and affirmation of their love, exchanged marital vows in a very non-traditional way that was not only a study in elegance, it was a lesson in fabulousness, and then some!
My darlings, we are talking easily and unquestionably one of the most stylish events ever hosted on this island.
Set on the East Lawns of the historic Devon House, the imposing venue and pristine setting occasioned by the transformation of the lawns into a fabulous lounge was complete with bistro tables, stools, chairs and ottomans, all in white; with similarly coloured marquees, housing some very scrumptious fare.
Doves, the wedding began with a cocktail prelude as the bride and groom made the rounds meeting and greeting guests!
And dears, when we say guests we are talking a familial atmosphere, with children running around, young teens huddling with each other or in the shadows of their parents, as leading members of the new administration, relatives and friends of the couple all exchanged pleasantries over libations, while songbird Della Manley entertained ever so beautifully.
And just when guests were beginning to think it was as good as it gets, it got better, as a hush descended on those gathered and the groom, escorted by his eldest son, Keith Duncan, made his way down the golden walkway, and into the garden dais where Civil Registrar Silvera Castro, welcomed him with other members of the bridal party to await the bride's arrival!
Now, talk about making entrance!!
There she was, atop of the steps of the Great House, framed by the open doors and the silhouettes cast by the setting sun, and looking absolutely stunning, indeed a vision of loveliness, accompanied by sonnets from Dr Sonia Davidson, followed by the voice of the incomparable Myrna Hague. And as she strolled down the aisle, on the arm of son David Manley, we are talking a regal portrait here, and the paparazzi were there to capture it all.
Dears, it was an absolutely fabulous mix of fairy-tale magic, highlighted by contemporary style and pure and unadulterated sophistication!
The wedding ceremony began with a poem by the grandchildren of the couple, and gave way to Dr Winty Davidson gracing guests with a musical offering, with Dr Sonia Davidson Davidson blessing the ring and saw the couple exchanging their own vows of dedication - emphasizing the very personal natuire of their marriage.
After their official presentation, Dr and Mrs D.K. Duncan went right into their celebration of the occasion and this followed immediately with the bride's brother-in-law, Richard Fletcher, master of ceremonies and ever the raconteur, led the evening into what was a festival of toasts from family and friends.
Among the guests in attendance were Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller; former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson; Finance Minister Dr Peter and Sandra Phillips; Minister of Transport and Works Dr Omar and Rose Davies; Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson; Water, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill; Mining and Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell; Education Minister Ronald and Marcia Thwaites; Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna and her companion, businessman Richard Lake; Junior Minister Julian Robinson; Junior Minister Luther Buchanan; Senator Angela Brown Burke and husband Paul; Ambassador Elinor Felix; O.K. and Angela Melhado; John and Urla Junor; Arnold and Clare Bertram; Steve and Betty-May Ashley; Leonie Forbes; a fabulous looking Pat Ramsay; the lovely Cissy Pouyatt; Ambassador Marjorie Taylor; Barbara Blake-Hanna; the esteemed Barry Moncrieffe; Sally Henzell; the fab Zein Issa Nakash; Professor Stephen and Lisa Vasciannie; Drs Hopeton and . Lelieth Dunn; Alston Douglas; Fae Ellington; Basil Louis and Tricia Castriota; Noel and Rosalie Barker; Gaudia Chevannes Aquart; Robert Stephenson, who took leave of his hospital bed to attend; the charming Judith Wedderburn; Doug and Jackie Brooks; Dr Dorith Grant Wisdom, in from Washington; Saddie Smith-Jouan; Judith James-Seifert of Unforgetable Flowers, who transformed the gardens into a bloom of fabulousness; Yvonne Anderson of La Claire, who did the bride's chignon.
Also out were children of the bride, Natasha and David Manley both jetting in from London; their siblings, Sarah Manley and Joseph Manley, also out, as were her uncle Rickland Anderson, who jetted in from Florida; her aunt, Barbara Davis, known to all as 'Aunt Babsy'; siblings: the elegant Shirley Anderson-Fletcher and the fabulous Lilleth McKay and husband Vincent McKay; her cousins the elegant Jeanette Hutchinson, who catered for the event and superbly so, Pamela Garel, who jetted in from Florida, and Marva and Ben Brodie; Drum Manley Drummond and wife Zarna.
The Duncan family patriarch the groom's uncle, Phillip Duncan, and wife Dorothy; children of the groom: sons Keith Duncan and wife Wendy, and their children, David Duncan and wife Heather, in from Atlanta; daughters Donna Duncan-Scott and hubby Alwyn, and their children, Patricia Duncan Sutherland and hubby Wayne and she did an absolutely flawless job of producing the event, the stunning Senator Imani Duncan-Price and hubby Stephen and their son, Dr Josina Duncan and fiancé Stephen Steele; brothers of the groom Hugh Duncan and wife Catherine, in from Trinidad, Lloyd and Dorothy Duncan; cousin Dennis Duncan; Ajamu Duncan and Dr Rebecca Duncan; Sheldon Powe and fiancée Dr Melissa Green and others. All danced the night away to the music of Grub Cooper and Fab 5.