Written by Staff Writer
In 2011, Rihanna’s mother, Monica Braithwaite , was diagnosed with cancer . For her dedication to her recovery, Rihanna was named citizen of Barbados, and she accepted the honor and plaque in person at a ceremony last Saturday.
CNN got an exclusive look inside the ‘Umbrella’ singer’s hometown.
“It’s an honor to be a national hero for my country,” Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, said during the ceremony. “My country has given me a lot and I am very proud of the way that I am able to give back to them.”
“My mom’s story and the cancer journey has been really personal to me, and the fact that this event has been organized and all of her constituents there, it means the world to me.”
Rihanna wore a burgundy gown for the day, attending with her mother and a half-dozen friends. The event was held at the Guinness Brewery on Alexandra Road, and is part of her Barbados on the Line tour, which benefits the education of underprivileged girls.
A bodyguard escorted Rihanna as she collected her award. She’s shown walking past the crowd of voters and onlookers, only to be stopped by some young fans she signed autographs for. “Make sure you save this picture,” she told the fan to the camera. “You can’t take it again. You can’t.”
Rihanna is also an honorary member of The Barbados Cocktail Club , which has been running since 1985 and was founded by Tamby Jarvis. Born and raised in the town of Roraima, Rihanna said she was introduced to the drink at a local bar before she was four years old. “We had a very dirty water system so the bartender would tip me, and I knew that wasn’t fair so I got caught up in the scuffle,” Rihanna said. “This is one of my bars. I’m a member. It’s a part of me.”
Currently the reigning queen of US pop music , Rihanna says Barbados was always a “family-oriented place” that was important to her. It’s also where she first gained her US citizenship in 2011. “When I was told I was granted citizenship of Barbados, I mean, the first reaction I had was, ‘Okay, what’s my next destination going to be?’ This was my second and I thought, ‘I need to make sure that I do my home country proud,” she said.
Her fans are also part of that experience. In a country where some Caribbean dishes are no longer available, Rihanna serves sweet and spicy chicken and rice “and everybody loves it.”
She’s not just going to make sure that Barbados’s place in her heart remains. She’s also working with hopes to create a legacy in her home country.
“I’m actually going to make a game in Barbados,” she said. “I’m actually going to come in December and build a park in a soccer field.”