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Barbados is the world's newest republic. Honors 'National Hero' Rihanna

(SOUNDBITE OF BAND)

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Fifty-five years after Barbados gained independence from Britain, the island nation has officially declared itself a republic headed by Dame Sandra Mason, its first-ever president, and not by Queen Elizabeth.

NOEL KING, HOST:

And at a ceremony yesterday, Bajan officials also bestowed a new honor on their most famous citizen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UMBRELLA")

RIHANNA: (Singing) Said I'll always be your friend, took an oath, I'ma stick it out 'til the end. Now that it's raining more than ever...

KING: Rihanna - singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, all around queen. She was born and raised in Barbados, and as of today, she holds the official title national hero.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE (PART II)")

RIHANNA: (Singing) But you'll always be my hero.

MARTINEZ: Prime Minister Mia Mottley did the honors.

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PRIME MINISTER MIA MOTTLEY: Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty, may you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your words, by your actions and to do credit wherever you shall go. God bless you, my dear. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIAMOND")

RIHANNA: (Singing) We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky. Shine bright like a diamond. Shine bright like a diamond.

MARTINEZ: NPR spoke with reporter Kareem Smith, who attended the ceremony and noted how Rihanna was on stage with the first-ever president of Barbados, a woman, and their female prime minister.

KAREEM SMITH: In a country like Barbados, women are primarily heads of single-parent households and are thought to play such a tremendous role in nurturing of young people. It really is fitting that we now have three women in positions of leadership, two of them in the highest offices of the land. It really speaks about the direction, the positive, progressive direction in which we are looking to go.

KING: So our congratulations to the right honorable Rihanna, national hero of Barbados.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUN THIS TOWN")

RIHANNA: (Singing) Is who gone run this town tonight? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.