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The first president of the new republic of Barbados is a leader in Black girl magic. Dame Sandra Mason, who will become the first Barbadian President, previously acted as its governor-general.
The Caribbean island country has long been led by the British monarchy, who colonized the nation for King James 1 in 1625. Queen Elizabeth is the current head of state.
However, the country’s current leadership recently voted to move from a parliamentary government to a republic, without a single nay vote. The move to a republic is effective as of November 30.
A long journey toward independence
Barbados had previously been led by a woman, Mia Mottley, who was elected prime minister in 2018. Ms. Mottley has noted that the move from parliamentary government has caused her stress, joking that she “has more grey hair now.”
Meanwhile, other leaders have been quick to congratulate both Dame Mason and Ms. Mottley, with Jamaican member of parliament Lisa Hanna confirming that the two are “boldly leading from the front and taking a giant step for the world to see.”
Barbados leadership has long sought independence from Great Britain, with the government stating, “the time [had] come” for Barbados to “fully leave our colonial past behind.” A constitutional review of the country’s government recommended the change to a republic as early as 1998.
Meanwhile, Barbados is not the first Caribbean British colony to make the move to an independent republic. Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago, and Dominica all declared independence from British rule in the 1970s to form their own state governments. The island country’s population is 285,000 with an economy built upon exports and tourism.