Yesterday, the 30th of November 2021; was a momentous day for this year, especially for people with African roots. The beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados finally became a Republic, exactly 55 years, to the day, after gaining their independence from the British, on 30th November 1966.

Dame Sandra Mason replaced Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. She was nominated by Prime Minister Mia Mottley; as well as the Opposition Leader, Joseph Atherley; to become the very first President of Barbados. The New Republic of Barbados conferred upon Barbadian singer Rihanna, the honour of National Hero of Barbados. Rihanna stunned her fans in a one-off-shoulder golden orange evening dress. Congratulations to the Republic of Barbados and singer/entertainer, Rihanna.

As this Caribbean country celebrated this monumental event; north across the Atlantic, France was honouring the late Josephine Baker by inducting a symbolic casket in her name into the Panthéon in Paris. She is the 1st American, 1st Black Woman, 1st Entertainer and only the 6th woman to enter this prestigious resting place for French heroes.

Famed Cabaret dancer, Josephine Baker, was born in 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Her mother was adopted as a child in 1886 by two former slaves. Baker never knew her father, but she is assumed to be a daughter of a white man. She started dancing in her preteens in Chorus lines and local night clubs. In 1925, aged 19, she sailed to Paris, France; and that’s where she gained recognition as an artiste. She was among of the first coloured Americans to move to France, where she was appreciated not just for her body, but as a dancer. Soon she became one of the most famous personalities worldwide in the roaring 20’s, adopted Paris as her home and today she’s an iconic symbol of the Jazz Age. Dubbed Black Venus, she later became a spy during World War II and aided the French Resistance. Baker supported the American Civil Rights Movement during the 1950’s. In 1963, she took part in the March on Washington alongside of Martin Luther King Jr. and was the only official female speaker at the event.

Baker has been awarded the Resistance Medal by the French Committee of National Liberation, the Croix de Guerre by the French military, and named a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Now inducting Josephine Baker into the Panthéon, is another great honour bestowed upon her by the French government. Well done, President Emmanuel Macron.

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