Residents of Westbury New Road, St Michael where Barbadian pop sensation Rihanna was born and raised say they are extremely happy with Government’s decision to rename that street in her honour.
In a brief statement today, Government revealed that the renaming would form part of this year’s 51st anniversary of Independence celebrations.
The United States-based superstar is due to unveil the signage along with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart during a two-hour ceremony on November 30 – Independence Day – in the St Michael community, declaring the popular urban thoroughfare as Rihanna Drive.
“I think that any place in Barbados could be renamed [after] Rihanna [based on] what she has done,” said 48-year-old Gladstone Licorish, in welcoming today’s announcement.
“The area where she come from, if they rename it Rihanna Drive we don’t mind,” he said, adding that “Westbury will always be here”.
However, he cautioned that the road, which is to carry Rihanna’s name, was already synonymous with a cemetery.
“We have to look at what we are doing though. The trademark of the road is actually the cemetery. But I think it is good [to honour Rihanna],” he said, while suggesting that former 110 metre hurdles world champion Ryan Braithwaite should be saluted as well.
“We also must look at Ryan Brathwaithe who also contributed all to Barbados. Being a world champion we should think about him as well. Instead of just a track, we need to give him a stadium,” Licorish added.
Another resident, David Bore, stressed that the Rihanna honour was long overdue.
“It should have happen ever since, not now. She contributed enough that anything like this, or even more, should be given to her,” the elderly man told Barbados TODAY, while describing the 29-year-old singer as the “perfect ambassador” for the island who had remained humble despite her global success.
“Whenever she is in Barbados she comes here at the BNB Bar, so you have to compliment her. She doesn’t let down where she come from. She is the perfect ambassador for Barbados,” he stressed, adding with the renaming of Westbury New Road should attract more visitors.
Today, Rihanna’s immediate Westbury neighbour Dawn Johnson showed Barbados TODAY an album full of signatures, which she has already collected from visitors to the area.
But though expressing her joy over the latest honour that is to be bestowed on the Barbadian songstress, who literally grew up next door, Johnson was concerned that her personal mailing address was about to change.
“We are on board. We are all fans of Rihanna. I am so happy for her,” said Johnson, stressing that “it very nice to have the street [in her honour].
“[But] I want to know how it will affect our address though, in terms of bills and stuff,” she added.
Just a stone’s throw away from the singer’s former home, at the BNB Bar, an excited Andrew Franklyn, who is the owner of the establishment, was extremely happy to hear that Rihanna was getting her own road.
With cruise ships docking at the Bridgetown Port, which is mere miles away from the community, Franklyn told Barbados TODAY his small business was bound to benefit.
“It is very good to see that an avenue is being named after our number one pop star.
“It will bring a lot of tourists to see where she came from and where she is now. It is good for business because tourists will come, stop and buy food and drinks,” he said, while revealing that he had already arranged a winter season tour of the area, which was already attracting visitors.
Today, Barbados TODAY met up with a group of Canadians tourists, who were sipping cold beers at BNB Bar. Members of the group said they were some of Rihanna’s biggest fans explaining that they had come to the area just to see where she lived.
“Our taxi guy took pictures and showed us exactly where Rihanna lived. It is actually amazing that the street is getting renamed for her. I think it is going to be great. I hope we can come back when it actually happens.” said the spokesman for the group, Dave Villers.