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FACT CHECK: Did Rihanna Say She Is Originally Igbo?

FACT CHECK: Did Rihanna Say She Is Originally Igbo?

Rihanna/Getty Images

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Ridwan Yusuf
Ridwan Yusuf

Ridwan is a trained Communicator who provides professional coverage of general news and sports. ...

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A widely-shared ‘news’ which started circulating online since at least August 7 claims that world-famous Barbadian singer, Rihanna, said she is originally Igbo. A particular viral post on the verified Facebook page of Nigerian newspaper, Daily Times, has been shared more than 1, 700 times.

Rihanna Igbo

Is Rihanna Igbo?

Who are the Ibo or Igbo people?


Igbo people are natives majorly based in present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria. Ethnic Igbo populations are also found in Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, as well as outside Africa.


Snapshot of Rihanna

Robyn Rihanna Fenty, popularly known simply as Rihanna, who recently officially became a billionaire, is one of the best-selling music artists of all-time. She is also into acting.

The pop and rhythm-and-blues (R&B) musician who became a worldwide star in the early 21st century, is known for her distinctive and versatile voice, and for her fashionable appearance.


The singer-turned-businesswoman has rented and owned homes in California (USA), England, New York (USA), and Barbados (country in the Caribbean). Those areas have been her territory of residence all her adult life.


The claim in its exactitude reads thus: “My mom once told me my origin was from Igbo Africa.” She was quoted to have said this “in a new video”.


Another version reads: “My mom told me that I am originally from Igbo, Igbo is a tribe in Africa.”


The claim, published on blogs and shared by social media users on Facebook and Twitter can be found here, here, here and here.


But did Rihanna say this? AllNews check.


First of all, there is no video found of Rihanna uttering those words.

There was a mention in the mainstream media, but none of all the reports has a proper reference.

Although, this ‘news’ about Rihanna tying her descent to Igbo appeared in a prominent Nigerian newspaper, The Nation, the paper carried the news just like other blogs – no reference.

Every single ‘news’ about 'Rihanna-Igbo' found online gives no details of when, where, and on which platform the 33-year-old is alleged to have made the statement. This is often a red flag that a claim posted online is inaccurate.

Apart from The Nation, no credible news organisation (local or international) reported on the global superstar saying anything like it, as you would expect if it were true.

There is no evidence Rihanna said she is originally Igbo.

What we know of Rihanna’s ancestry

Rihanna is multiracial. Her mother, Monica Braithwaite, is Afro-Guyanese and her father, Ronald Fenty is of Afro-Barbadian and British Isles ancestry (known as "Redlegs" in the Caribbean).

AllNews recalls that in an interview with T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2019, the pop star touched on her lineage.

“In my own household, my father is half black, half white,” Rihanna had said. “My mom is black from South America. I was seeing diversity. That’s all I knew.”

Family tree of Rihanna

Rihanna’s maternal grandparents are Clara “Dolly” Viola Venetta Johnson and Lionel Braithwaite.

Lionel, who came to Guyana in a ship from Barbados that he worked on, had a chance meeting with 17-year-old Guyanese fruit vendor Clara back in 1955.

Rihanna’s paternal grandfather, Forde Reginald Leslie, was African-Barbadian. Rihanna’s paternal grandmother, Fenty “Betty”  Elizabeth, is white, has Scottish, English, and Irish ancestry. “Betty” is the daughter of Stanley Fitzherbert Fenty and Hilda Olga Coppin. Her parents were born in Barbados. The surname Fenty is usually Scottish and the surname Coppin is usually English. "Betty" is from a family of “Red Legs,” descendants of slaves from the British Isles who were sent to Barbados.

For Forde Reginald Leslie, he was the son of Helen Forde. Helen was the daughter of Joseph Nathanael “Joe” Forde and Louisa Jane Bascom.

You can find a chart of Rihanna's family tree here. Screenshot below:

Rihanna family tree


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Ridwan Yusuf
Ridwan Yusuf

Ridwan is a trained Communicator who provides professional coverage of general news and sports. ...

More From this Author

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