Robyn ‘Rihanna’ Fenty

(Stock Photo)

Singer, actress, media icon, fashion mogul, entrepreneur, trailblazer and international superstar…these are but a few of the titles that aptly describe the 11th National Heroine of Barbados, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, The Right Excellent Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
She was bestowed the honour of National Heroine on November 30, 2021, during the investiture ceremony to officially declare Barbados a republic. To date, she is the youngest person to receive the honour and has joined Sir Garfield St. Alban Sobers as the island’s second living National Hero. Since her introduction to the international scene in 2005 with her debut single ‘Pon De Replay’, Rihanna has gone on to win nine Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards (including the Icon Award), 12 Billboard Music Awards, six Guinness World Records, and the NAACP’s President’s Award.
Aside from making her mark as a singer, the 33-year-old has developed into an iconic businesswoman in the beauty and fashion industries. She has also been recognised internationally for her humanitarian efforts, through the Clara Lionel Foundation, named to honour her grandparents, Clara and Lionel Brathwaite.
With sales of over 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna is considered as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, earning 14 number-one and 31 top-ten singles in the US alone.

Clement Osbourne Payne

(BGIS Library)

The Right Excellent Clement Osbourne Payne is regarded by some as the “apostle” of trade unionism in Barbados, urging workers to “Educate, agitate, but not to violate”. Known for his fiery, powerful speeches, Payne sought to educate the poor working masses on the importance of coming together and resisting the elite white planter class. 

Sir Hugh Worrell Springer

(BGIS Library)

The Right Excellent Sir Hugh Worrell Springer was the first General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) from 1940-1947 and was this island’s third native Governor General from 1984-1990. His long and distinguished academic career and public service mark Sir Hugh as among the greatest Barbadians of all time.

Charles Duncan O’Neal

(Portrait by Ishi Butcher)

National Hero, The Right Excellent Charles Duncan O’Neal, dedicated most of his working life to the poor. Although a medical doctor and a member of the privileged class, he agitated against deep-seated racism of the 1920s and 1930s, which the planter class perpetuated against blacks. 

Sarah Ann Gill

(Portrait by Patrick Foster)

In the face of relentless persecution, including threats against her life, National Hero, The Right Excellent Sarah Ann Gill, continued to hold meetings for members of the Methodist church in her home.  She challenged the existing social order and is remembered for her courage, perseverance and commitment to religious freedom. 


(Portrait by Akyem-I-Ramsay)

It is said that National Hero, The Right Excellent Bussa, also known as Busso or Bussoe, commanded some 400 freedom fighters against troops of the First West India Regiment during the rebellion of 1816. He was killed in battle but his troops continued to fight until they were overcome by superior fire power. The 1816 slave uprising was the first in the island for 124 years, the previous taking place in 1692.

Samuel Jackman Prescod

(BGIS Library)

The Right Excellent Samuel Jackman Prescod truly understood the ‘power of the pen’. As a newspaper editor, he wrote scathing articles accusing the planters of pursuing policies which suppressed blacks. Through the printed page, Prescod also sought to unite the free coloured, the apprenticed workers and the poor whites against the powerful plantocracy.  

Sir Grantley Herbert Adams

(BGIS Library)

National Heroes Day is the birthday of The Right Excellent Sir Grantley Herbert Adams. He was born on April 28, 1898. Sir Grantley would go on to become the first Premier of Barbados and the only Prime Minister of the now defunct West Indies Federation.

Errol Walton Barrow

(BGIS Library)

The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, often referred to as ‘The Skipper’ or ‘Father of Independence’, was successful in securing many social changes in Barbados during his tenure as Premier and then Prime Minister of Barbados. These included developments in education, health, social security and tourism. He also oversaw the island’s transition to Independence in 1966, becoming the island’s first Prime Minister. 

Sir Frank Leslie Walcott

(BGIS Library)

The Right Excellent Frank Leslie Walcott was known as a tough, dynamic and principled negotiator with a visionary approach to bargaining for improved conditions for the working population. He served the island’s first trade union, the Barbados Workers’ Union, for 50 years.

Sir Garfield St. Auburn Sobers

(BGIS Library)

The Right Excellent Sir Garfield St. Auburn Sobers‘ record of 365 runs not out stood as the highest individual test score for 36 years until it was surpassed by Brian Lara in 1994. Sir Gary made that incredible record in 1958 when he was only 21 years old. 

Excerpts taken from the booklet ‘National Heroes of Barbados’ (1998). For more information on the National Heroes of Barbados, pick up a copy of our publication by contacting the Barbados Government Information Service at telephone number 535-1900.

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