- Pamela Uba, crowned Miss Ireland 2021 on Sunday, is the first Black woman to win the pageant.
- The 26-year-old medical scientist hopes to show girls color “is not something that holds you back.”
- Miss Ireland first started in 1947 and the winner goes on to represent the country in Miss World.
For the first time in 74 years, a Black woman has been crowned Miss Ireland. Pamela Uba, who entered the competition as Miss Galway, broke barriers on Sunday as the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Ireland since the event was established in 1947, according to the pageant’s press release.
The 26-year-old works part-time as a model and as a medical scientist, the Irish Times reports. Uba also worked as a frontline worker at the University Hospital of Galway, the press release added, where she shared an Instagram photo of herself sporting a lab coat and her new emerald green bejewelled crown on Friday.
Debuting her Miss Ireland 2021 sash on Instagram on Monday, Uba wrote: “It’s like a dream come true. Words can’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling right now, or have been feeling for the past week leading up to the final.”
“It has been such a privilege to get to know, stand beside and go through this unique journey with so many extraordinary young women in the competition,” she continued.
Uba was crowned Miss Ireland by three former winners: Lauren McDonagh, Aoife O Sullivan, and Rebecca Maguire, according to the press release. With her new title, Uba will go on to represent Ireland at the 70th Miss World pageant in Puerto Rico in December.
In the press release, Brendan Marc Scully, Director of Miss Ireland, called Uba “a joy from the very start” and said she “put her heart and soul into her Miss Ireland journey.”
“She won the most amount of Miss Ireland challenges coming first in the debating challenge as well as the sports challenge. She was also outstanding in the talent challenge, and the charity challenge,” he added.
Despite the support and messages of congratulations, Uba told Sky News on Thursday that she’s also been subjected to racist comments following her win.
“You would get a lot of bullying online, racism online, and I’ve experienced it quite a lot, especially since becoming Miss Galway and then becoming Miss Ireland,” she told the publication. “There is a minority there that feel the need to put out negativity.”
“All I can say is that hurt people are the ones hurting people, and you shouldn’t let them break into your bubble and break you down,” she added.
According to the press release, Uba arrived in Ireland from South Africa when she was 8 years old. At the time, she and her family came to the island seeking asylum from their home city of Johannesburg.
In her interview with the Irish Times, she said: “It means so much to me. 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.”
While she told the publication she was “very proud” to be an Irish citizen, she also shared criticism for the years it took for her family to be resettled in Ireland through the immigration system, called direct provision.
“I was in it for 10 years, not knowing what was happening or when my life could start,” she told the Irish Times. “People need to be able to live their lives. I hope Ireland continues to help people, but the direct provision system needs to be rethought and possibly removed.”
Pamela Uba did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.