Although Barbados is undeniably modest in size, it is also undeniably impressive in stature. Despite being a tiny island with a land space of a mere 166 precious square miles, Barbados has exerted significant influence on international affairs and development throughout its fascinating history, ever since first being settled by the English in 1627.
Fast forward 395 years to today, complete with the modern worlds’ far-reaching and all-encompassing telecommunications, and it is fair to say that the new Barbados has been adopted as a popular focal point for global media attention.
While Rihanna has been proudly representing the beloved land of her birth every step of the way during her unprecedented 17-year journey to world stardom as an entertainer, businesswoman and philanthropist, in the last two years the country itself has also been making standout headlines. In particular, our Prime Minister, the Honourable Mia Mottley, QC, MP, has been widely featured on a host of the world’s leading TV, radio and social media news channels.
It all began in June 2020 when Barbados captured the attention of the world by introducing the innovative Welcome Stamp Visa Programme, which invited people to escape COVID-19 lockdown woes in their own country by coming to work remotely in the happy and healthy environment of our island-home. Several thousand digital nomads took up the offer and relocated here, including many who brought their families with them. All of a sudden Bajans found themselves watching TV with great pride as our country became hot news, and our elected leader - affectionately known by all simply as Mia - spoke with affable distinction during interviews with a plethora of top news reporters.
Then, in September 2021, the Prime Minister ably demonstrated her international leadership skills at the highest level, by delivering a compelling speech to the United Nations 76th General Assembly in New York. While beseeching world leaders to understand that talking about the ever-increasing global challenges was no longer acceptable and action was the only way forward, her powerful words resonated strongly both inside the auditorium and beyond. Once again, the word Barbados was trending all around the world.
A similar story was repeated in October when Mia Mottley made a brilliant, impassioned speech at the COP 26 Climate Summit in Glasgow. As leader of one of the world’s smallest and most vulnerable island-nations, Prime Minister Mottley stated that a 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature would be ‘a death sentence’ for island and coastal communities, adding, ‘We do not want that dreaded death sentence, and we have come here today to say, try harder’. Described as a ‘breakout moment at COP 26’, her much publicised speech rocketed Mia Mottley to the pinnacle of the battle against global warming. In due course, the United Nations bestowed upon her their highest environmental honour, as one of four ‘Champions of the Earth’, awarded for impact and leadership in advancing bold action on behalf of people and the planet.
Just a month later, the world’s media not only focused on Barbados, but actually came here in force, keen to witness the historic occasion of Barbados transitioning to the world’s newest Republic. As the first ever Barbadian-born President, Dame Sandra Mason, was officially sworn in to replace the Queen as the nation’s Head of State, the eyes of the world were upon us. Barbados did not disappoint. Timed to coincide with the country’s 55th Anniversary of Independence, a glittering overnight ceremony in Heroes Square, Bridgetown, provided a steady stream of captivating photo opportunities and headline stories for gossip magazines and serious publications alike. Standing alongside Prime Minister Mottley and President Sandra Mason were His Royal Highness Prince Charles, representing Her Majesty The Queen; cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers in his capacity as a National Hero of Barbados; and our very own global superstar, Rihanna.
During the ceremony, Prime Minister Mottley announced the intention to appoint Rihanna as the next National Hero of Barbados. In closing, she echoed one of Rihanna’s songs by telling her, ‘May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honour to your nation’.
The crowd roared their approval, live TV cameras rolled, camera flashes lit up the night, and the news-bites beamed to every corner of the earth.
Barbados was under the global spotlight, shining like a diamond.