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JM | Nov 30, 2021

Twitter erupts as Rihanna is named National Hero in Barbados while Jamaican figures yet to receive same honour

Ategie Edwards

Ategie Edwards / Our Today

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Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Barbados President Sandra Mason honour singer Rihanna as a National Hero during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony to mark the birth of a new republic in Barbados at Heroes Square in Bridgetown, Barbados, November 30, 2021. (Jeff J Mitchell/REUTERS)

Following Bajan star Rihanna being bestowed the honour of being named a National Hero in her homeland last night (November 29), many Jamaicans took to Twitter, resurrecting their disappointment over their country’s longstanding failure to carry out additions they believe should be made to Jamaica’s own list of National Heroes.

This ongoing conversation most notably surrounds the likes of Bob Marley, Louise ‘Miss Lou’ Bennett Coverley and Usain Bolt.

Bronze Queen Merlene Ottey and entertainer Sean Paul were also mentioned.

There are a number of Jamaicans who strongly believe these figures have positively contributed to the nation and, with last night’s event to celebrate Barbados becoming a republic, Jamaicans have been left more confused than ever about why the country has yet to add to its list of National Heroes.

In a series of tweets, persons shared their comments.

@Boulevard, in response to a tweet about Rihanna’s recent achievement, said: “While Jamaica over here still debating if they should make Bob Marley a National Hero.”

Social media personality Terri-Karelle Reid also voiced her views on the platform, suggesting that both Marley and Miss Lou should be named National Heroes.

Some users, however, opposed Marley being named a National Hero, stating that they have not yet seen any solid arguments that would warrant the reggae legend being given such an honour.

As of 1982, Jamaica had a total of seven National Heroes and, since then, no other individual has been conferred with the honour of being named a National Hero. In Jamaica, to become a National Hero, one would have to make significant positive contributions to the growth and development of the country. This lifetime honour can be presented to a citizen of the country who is deemed fit, whether dead or alive. The likes of Marley and Miss Lou especially have contributed immensely to the island.

Bob Marley has become one of the most popular figures in the world, whose stardom helped to put Jamaica on the map. Many, to this date, visit Jamaica only because it is the reggae star’s homeland. This in turn contributes significantly to the country’s tourism sector. Widely considered the creator of the reggae genre, his birth month of February is celebrated as Reggae Month each year.

Bob Marley

Miss Lou, poet, folklorist and writer, was one who encouraged Jamaicans to embrace their native tongue – Patois. Penning several books in Patois, this contribution from Miss Lou helped the dialect gain acceptance in society.

Miss Lou in 2003.

Another Twitter user went as far as to call Marley ‘The Honourable Bob Marley’ and @burey_ewan compiled a list of reasons he believed Marley deserves the title of National Hero, saying: “Nation building is not solely based on political and economic accomplishment. Cultural development is important too.”

He added that his womanising ways in no way takes away from how he culturally impacted the country.

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