Pamela Uba, a 26-year-old medical scientist, has made history as the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Ireland in the country since the pageant began in 1947.
“It means so much to me,” Uba told The Irish Times after her win in Cavan on Sunday night. “I am so grateful I can show girls that color is not something that holds you back and it doesn’t matter where you come from, the world is your oyster.”
Uba, who is a part-time model and healthcare worker, worked on the frontlines during the pandemic. At Galway University Hospital, she monitored the inflammatory process in patients who contracted Covid-19, according to The Irish Times.
Uba had moved to Ireland as an asylum seeker from Johannesburg, South Africa when she was seven. “I remember thinking it was strange that I couldn’t hear gunshot when I arrived,” she said. She grew up in the direct-provision system and is now an Irish citizen. When she arrived in Ireland, Uba said she spent time in centers in the Dublin area before being moved to Athlone, Co Westmeath, and, ultimately, to a center in Ballyhaunis, in Co Mayo. There, she spent about 10 years with her mother and siblings.
Even though the frontline worker is proud to be Irish, racism is still a problem in the country, and that worries her. She said that when she won Miss Galway in March 2020, she received racist messages on social media. “I’ve experienced racism, and it’s horrible to hear people telling me to go back to my country when I’ve worked so hard to make Ireland my home,” she said.
Uba has completed her medical science degree in Galway and is waiting for the results of her master’s in clinical chemistry from Trinity College Dublin. She will in December represent Ireland at the 70th Miss World festival in Puerto Rico.
“I can’t even describe how excited I am to represent my country on such a huge platform. I can’t wait,” said Uba, who would like to use her Miss Ireland title to show how diverse Ireland is.