Singer and entrepreneur Rihanna has been declared a national hero of Barbados, as the country celebrates its transition into and independent republic.
At the strike of midnight on Tuesday, the new republic was born to the cheers of hundreds of people at Chamberlain Bridge in the capital, Bridgetown.. And with that Barbados ditched the Queen as its head of state, forging a new path with its first president Dame Sandra Mason.
After a dazzling display of Barbadian dance and music, complete with speeches celebrating the end of colonialism, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that the 33-year-old singer would be conferred with the honour of National Hero of Barbados. Rihanna was called up before the crowds to be congratulated by Mottley. “May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions,” Mottley told Rihanna, referring to her 2012 chartbuster single “Diamonds”.
Rihanna is Barbados’s most famous citizen and in 2018 was appointed an official ambassador for culture and youth. She has never softened her Bajan accent, and her music, while tapping into pop, has remained connected to her Caribbean heritage.
Mottley said the superstar commanded “the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence with her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth”.
Rihanna, 33, was born in Saint Michael and raised in the capital, Bridgetown. She shot to fame after the American producer Evan Rogers recognised her talents. Her 2007 single Umbrella confirmed her as one of the world’s biggest pop star.
Along with being a successful musician, Rihanna is a highly successful entrepreneur as well. In August Forbes estimated she was worth $1.7bn (£1.3bn), about $1.4 bn of which comes from the value of her cosmetics company, Fenty Beauty, a partnership with the French fashion giant LVMH.
Rihanna joins a select group of 10 other Barbadians including Garfield Sobers, regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time and the only other living national hero. Sobers was also present at the ceremony and hugged Rihanna.