by Howard Campbell
[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – September 10, 2001 saw singer Mikey General boarding a flight from Washington DC to Kingston, Jamaica. The American capital was last stop of an American tour he did with fellow roots-reggae vocalist Luciano.
The following day, terrorists struck in the United States, attacking New York City, Pennsylvania and The Pentagon in Virginia. The World Trade Center in Manhattan was worst hit; nearly 3,000 people died when al-Qaeda terrorists flew two planes into the twin towers.
Watching on television from Jamaica, Mikey General was dumbfounded.
“It was shocking to see so many people dying. We could have been in New York or Pennsylvania; it was very disturbing, the world hasn’t been the same since,” said the Rastafarian artist.
As with the current COVID-19 pandemic, 9/11 affected all forms of international commerce including the entertainment industry. When things began getting back to normal one year later, Rastafarians were some of the people unjustly targeted, including at airports.
Because shaving goes against their beliefs, and many of them cover their locks, a number of Rastafarians were mistaken for Middle East terrorists.
“They (immigration officers) started searching us aggressively in parts of Europe and the US, and that happened for a while. We expected it so it didn’t really affect us that much,” Mikey General explained.
Thirty-seven Caribbean nationals (including 16 Jamaicans, 14 from Trinidad and Tobago, three from Guyana and two each from Bermuda and Haiti) died in the World Trade Center tragedy 20 years ago.
Mikey General, who was born in the United Kingdom to Jamaican parents, grew up in Kingston. He returned to the UK in his teens and began his recording career there on sound systems.
He still performs and tours with Luciano. Their latest song is Redemption, released in August.