Senior citizen blames politicians, police for the state of JamaicaMonday, September 20, 2021
AT 82 years old, Noel Wallace has fond memories of a Jamaica that was kinder, gentler and much more peaceful.
Wallace remembers walking from his yard, on Steven Lane in Rae Town, to The Student's Union on the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies to attend a dance, and then walking home in the wee hours of the morning without fear.
“Me used to walk any time and me never have no fear of gunman, even though gun did deh 'bout. Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, almost every night dance used to keep and the peanut man survive, the gate man survive, the ganja man survive and the time did nice,” the former party promoter told the Jamaica Observer.
“It come in like we gone backward, and mi blame it on the politicians and the police,” said the father of four.
He argued that the police are to be blamed because their actions have led to them not being trusted by scores of Jamaicans who refuse to share information with them, while the politicians fuelled the gun violence in the name of party politics.
According to Wallace, the coarsening of Jamaica started in the 1960s following the destruction of some houses in the west Kingston slum known as Back-O-Wall.
“Di man dem who did deh a Back-O-Wall start change after that. They all were friends and used to play parapinto in Back-O-Wall 'round Coronation Market, but then the two sides change,” declared Wallace.
He said with that change some politicians began arming their supporters and using violence to achieve their personal goals.
“Mi get caught up in the politics too but mi did sensible. Dem come for me and mi tell dem mi nuh ready yet. Me was a one-man band and so mi never in any gang or dem ting deh, although me sit down with all a di bad man dem,” added Wallace, who spent 34 years working with the then Public Works Department (PWD).
Wallace said his formal education ended when he left Holy Family Primary School, and he moved to the PWD shortly after where he started as a helper before learning the trade and being promoted to the role of heavy-duty mechanic.
“Mi use to fix tractors, bulldozers and mechanical rollers and go all over Jamaica fixing roads. That time the roads were done properly because we used rollers on them; now the roads not being properly done because dem using vibrators while we used rollers.
“Vibrators go over the road too fast and so them no compress, but the roller compress the road and let them stand up to everything so that dem last long,” declared Wallace, who uses his bicycle to traverse the roads in his Standpipe community.
The sprightly senior citizen told the Observer that one of his main concerns now is the behaviour of Jamaica's young people.
“Dem youth yah no tek no talking. Dem tink dem know more than you so you cyaa talk to them. You can't tell them anything and [yet] them want to tell you,” said Wallace as he urged Jamaican youths to take advantage of the educational opportunities that are now available.
“A good education is the number one way out of poverty. Without a good education you will always be backwards,” declared Wallace.