On the 30th November 2021, Barbados severed ties with the monarchy, becoming the world’s newest Republic. On this historical day, the Barbadian government also named their 11th National Hero. As Barbados says goodbye to the Queen of England, they bring honour to a musical and an entrepreneurial queen, Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley, praised Rihanna for her pursuit of excellence with her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to her nation of birth. Mottley referenced Rihanna’s number one hit, Diamonds, saying “May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation.”
Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, and appointed an official Ambassador for Culture and Youth in 2018, Rihanna has always stayed true and proud of her nation and people. In her acceptance speech, Rihanna dedicates her honour to the people of Barbados naming them the “true heroes of Barbados.” The pop singer, fashion icon and entrepreneur continues to leave her mark in history representing not only Barbadians but all Caribbean people. She is a role model for Caribbean women in the region and the diaspora.
As Barbados welcomes a new era as a Republic, the island is also welcoming a new era for women. Rihanna, a woman with a net worth of 1.3 billion pounds, 9 Grammy Awards, Partner of a very lucrative cosmetic company, a survivor of abuse, and a woman with no fear for nasty tabloid prints about her body and beauty, is an exemplar woman for young girls all over the world, but more so young Black girls and young Caribbean girls.
Rihanna accepted her award as a “proud Bajan” remarking that she has received several awards and recognitions from all over the world “but nothing compares to being recognized by the soil you grew in.” Her speech was genuine and heartwarming. Rihanna attended the night ceremony gracing the stage in a stunning orange floor-length Bottega Veneta gown and styled her hair in several large braids; a beautiful way to embrace and showcase her culture.
A historical and emotional moment for Rihanna, and by extension minority women all over the globe, doesn’t seem to be sitting well with the patriarchy. Rihanna is facing criticisms for going braless as well as rumours about pregnancy as her stomach printed out. As her fellow grammy award winner, Taylor Swift, tell us in her hit All Too Well (10 minute version) (Taylor’s Version), “F**k the patriarchy!”
Barbados has chosen a woman who shows us that her value and worth isn’t defined by what she wears, a woman who fearlessly speaks her mind unapologetically using swear words, and who did not allow victim-blaming to drag her down. Rihanna has challenged the patriarchy time and time again, conquering all the challenges it throws her way and emerging a queen in more ways than one.
Congratulations to Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Pop Singer, Business Woman, Barbadian Ambassador for Culture and Youth and National Hero of Barbados. Thank you for being a visionary for women of all walks of life.