The other day, Kaiser reported on the head of state changeover in Barbados. During her report, she spoke about Rihanna attending and her new title of national hero of Barbados. Rihanna was acknowledged, thanked Prime Minister Mia Mottley and greeted the other distinguished guests, including Prince Charles and fellow national hero, Garfield St. Aubrun Sobers. However, that was not Ambassador RiRi’s ceremony, that was just excellence acknowledging excellence. Rihanna was honored in her own ceremony on Wednesday where she received her medal and was able to convey her gratitude to the whole of Barbados. Rihanna is the 11th person to receive this honor and only the second woman.
On Wednesday, the singer was officially honored in a separate ceremony where she received a large medal emblazoned with the outline of Barbados and blew a kiss to the cheering crowd.
“This is a day that I will never, ever forget. It’s also a day that I never saw coming,” she said in a brief speech in which she encouraged the youth to continue pushing Barbados forward. “I have traveled the world and received several awards and recognitions, but nothing, nothing compares to being recognized in the soil that you grew in.”
It is the first time in more than 20 years that Barbados has bestowed a national hero honor: The last person to receive the title was former cricket player Garfield St. Aubrun Sobers. A total of 11 people have now been honored since 1998, including a slave who led a rebellion and the first person of African descent to serve in the island’s Parliament.
When Mottley presented Rihanna early Tuesday before the official ceremony, she noted that the pop star came from humble origins and was born less than a mile from where the ceremony was taking place.
She congratulated the singer for “commanding 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.”
Style notes: for her ceremony, Rihanna wore a cream mini dress under a matching tux jacket with a cutout back and roman high-heeled sandals. I really can’t imagine what this must have meant to Rihanna. She is such a proud Bajan and to be recognized by them in this way, I don’t doubt this recognition stands out above any other she’s received. I’m glad she had her own separate ceremony in which she received her medal. Given there have only ever been 11 national heroes, it seems appropriate that they should receive their own space. But I also think it fitting that Rihanna’s recognition was included in the change of power ceremony alongside Mr. Sobers. It was a historic moment steeped in significance and Barbados handled every part of it was grace and dignity.
Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty is now officially titled “the right excellent.” I mean, we always knew she was, but it’ll be nice to have that embossed in gold for time immemorial. Congratulations the right excellent Ambassador Rihanna.
Photo credit: Getty Images