a day my people and I will never forget! all the lessons, running around barefoot, nosey neighbors, braiding hair on the step, playing in the cemetery, walking to the beach, rum shop karaoke keeping the whole street awake til 4am ("only the lonely" by Roy Orbison is playing in my head as I type this) , stealing Sammy pomegranates from his tree, begging my mother to let me walk to Jan's shop cause she had American snacks, selling plastic/glass bottles to Peter so I could buy those American snacks, getting my hair hot combed for Harvest at church, doing my homework on my front step while Miss Hyacinth yells "ya gon get belly hurt from dat cold step" across from her veranda, watching iFE walk past with her dreads dragging on the floor like a couture gown, all the times I thought Melissa came to hang out with me, turns out she was dating my next door neighbor all along, rushing to do dishes when my mother's high heels start hitting the pavement as she gets off the bus from work……right here on this street! WESTBURY is more than a community, we're family!!! Thank you for all that you've poured into my life and the woman I am! It takes a village, and I'm glad my village was you!!!! To God be the Glory!!!! #RiRiDrive
Grateful and honoured. That was Rihanna’s reaction to the renaming of her childhood neighbourhood to Rihanna Drive and the conferral of the title of Cultural Ambassador last night.
“I couldn’t be more honoured to have the street that I was raised on, the street that I grew up on, the street . . . my dreams were born on this very street here and I know that saying ‘believe in your dreams’, it sounds cliché but, I guarantee you, the only thing that got me here was believing my dreams,” Rihanna declared to screams yesterday.
Dressed in a gold deconstructed shirtdress and matching purse from the Jacquemeus spring-summer 2018 collection, the entertainer, actress and businesswoman took the spotlight in a ceremony that started an hour and 40 minutes late under stormy afternoon skies.
Her arrival and that of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart were heralded by a bugle fanfare and she was greeted by a flag-bearing guard of honour of cadets from Combermere School. She later chatted with Charles F. Broome Memorial School’s head boy Alique Marshall and head girl Anya Walcott, who presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a plaque.
Noting that she still thought of it as Westbury New Road, the 29-year-old singer said she could not be more grateful “for a day like this”.
She credited the people of Westbury New Road with making her into the woman that she now was.
“Special thanks to all my neighbours in Westbury New Road who had a hand in raising me and the woman that I am and the discipline that I have. I am very grateful for that kind of backbone. I believe that I was here for a reason,” she said.
The songbird said she never doubted her dreams would come true and urged young men and women to believe in their dreams.
“I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I know I was hidden away on this little rock Barbados, how would anybody find me but I always knew it would happen. I always focused on the result and that kind of faith. It really was just faith.”
She added it was that faith that got her through doubt and times of discouragement.
“It is the thing that I go back to, having faith in God. And I want to encourage not just the people of Westbury New Road and the Westbury community, but all of the people in Barbados, all the young women and young men who have dreams and think that the world is up against them, it is possible,” she said.
The event was attended by the who’s who of Barbados, including Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, Cave Hill Campus principal, Professor Eudine Barriteau, MP for the area Michael Carrington, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, other politicians and noted entertainers Gabby, Red Plastic Bag and Richard Stoute. The event, which included the unveiling of a signpost and a sign board, culminated with a street party after Prime Minister Stuart and Rihanna viewed the symbol that was embedded into the pavement outside Rihanna’s former home.