In November 2018 Robyn Rihanna Fenty was appointed an official ambassador of Barbados. Then on November 30th, 2021, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados announced that global superstar Rihanna would be bestowed the honor of National Hero of Barbados. This appointment was announced at the commemoration ceremony of Barbados leaving the reign of the British monarchy after 396 years. Rihanna is the second woman and the 11th person to be declared a national hero of Barbados. Rihanna’s new title bestows upon her the privilege to be addressed as “Right Honorable.”
The announcement garnered international attention and not only sparked discussions about what it means to be a hero, but questioned why Rihanna was deserving of this honor.
At a net worth of $1.7 billion, Rihanna is the wealthiest female musician on the planet and the second wealthiest female entertainer in the world.
But the decision to make Rihanna a National Hero runs far deeper than her amassing great wealth; it’s her nature of philanthropy, her patriotism, the principles she stands for and the positive influence she has had on those who look to her as an icon and guiding light.
She has used her platform to promote her Barbadian culture and tourism, and has donated millions of dollars to charitable organizations in Barbados. She has been an outspoken advocate for social justice and has used her voice to bring attention to issues such as police brutality and the need for criminal justice reform.
Rihanna’s accomplishments as an artist and entrepreneur are beyond impressive, if not mind boggling. At 35 years old she has sold over 250 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She has won nine Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards, and 12 Billboard Music Awards.
She has also found the time, despite her busy schedule, to launch not one, but several successful businesses, including her cosmetics line Fenty Beauty and her lingerie line Savage X Fenty. Quite in keeping with her spirit of philanthropy, she established the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012, in honor of her grandparents, and organized an annual ball dubbed the Diamond Ball Charity Event to raise funds for her charities. The organization supports and funds groundbreaking effective education and emergency response programs around the world. This event affords education projects, scholarships, health care and grants for individuals in need.
But what does it mean to be a National Hero, and why was Rihanna chosen for this honor? In Barbados, like all other countries, the title of National Hero is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a citizen. National Heroes are individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of their country, and would have demonstrated exceptional service, leadership, and vision. They serve as role models for future generations, and their legacy is celebrated and honored throughout their country.
Rihanna’s contributions to Barbados are undeniable. As a cultural ambassador, she has helped to promote Barbadian music, art, and tourism to audiences around the world. Her philanthropic work has benefited numerous organizations in Barbados, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Clara Lionel Foundation and the Barbados Children’s Trust. She has also used her platform to raise awareness about issues affecting Barbados, such as climate change and the need for education reform.
But Rihanna’s accomplishments as an artist and entrepreneur on the world stage are also worth celebrating. There’s a sense that she inherently knows that music is the food of life, and that it comes with a responsibility that too few today are able to deliver. It is seemingly in keeping with this awareness that she delivers clean, relevant and uplifting lyrics through music, which is by far the most influential and motivational vehicle for life’s perceptions and aspirations.
She has shattered numerous barriers and has become a role model for young people around the world. Her success as a Black woman in a predominantly white industry has inspired countless others to pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles they may face. But perhaps her most important undertaking is her advocacy for social justice and her commitment to enacting positive change that makes her a hero, not only in Barbados, but in the eyes of the world.