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Pamela Uba, a 26-year-old medical scientist, made history this month when she became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Ireland the competition’s 70-year history.
The contest was established in 1947.
“It means so much to me,” Uba told Irish Times following her historic win. “I am so grateful I can show girls that colour is not something that holds you back and it doesn’t matter where you come from, the world is your oyster.”
The eldest of six siblings, Uba moved to Ireland with her family as an asylum seeker from Johannesburg, in South Africa.
She was just seven years old at the time.
“I remember thinking it was strange that I couldn’t hear gunshot when I arrived,” she says. She says she wept when she first received her Irish passport.
Uba hopes she will not be the last woman of color to ban the title.
“We are all human, and we all deserve the same love and respect,” she said.
In December, the part-time model and nurse will head to Puerto Rico, where she will represent Ireland at the 70th Miss World festival. “I can’t even describe how excited I am to represent my country on such a huge platform. I can’t wait.”
But Uba’s time in the spotlight has not been without its challenges. Last year, days ahead of the lockdown, she says she was bombarded with racist messages after she was crowned Miss Galway.
“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 told the Times. “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 says.
During an interview with Irish Independent, Uba shared that her journey into the pageant world was not a deliberate one.
She was working in a bar and was mistaken for one of the contestants.
“I was in Coyotes working and one of the judges thought I was a contestant and so she encouraged me to try it out some day, so that put it in my mind,” she said. “I looked up what the pageant was and what it
stood for and I thought ‘I have to do this one day when I’m able’ so I was just waiting for the moment when I was ready.”