Pamela Uba has been crowned the first Black Miss Ireland. The new Miss Ireland won the pageant on Sunday, Sept. 6, in Cavan.
Uba competed in the pageant as Miss Galway and is grateful to be the first Black Miss Ireland. She has a medical science degree from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in clinical chemistry from Trinity College Dublin. She said that she wanted little girls of color to know that they also could do anything they wanted.
“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.”
Uba was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved to Ireland when she was seven seeking asylum with her family. Miss Ireland told the Irish Times that she was proud to be Irish and was moved to tears when she got her new passport.
“I remember thinking it was strange that I couldn’t hear gunshots when I arrived,” she said. “I cried when I got my Irish passport.”
While the pageant winner loves Ireland, she is also an activist and advocates for changing the asylum process. Uba and her five siblings grew up in Ireland’s direct-provision system for people seeking asylum.
Upon arriving in Dublin, the Uba family was sent to an asylum center before being moved again to the town of Athlone in central Ireland. They were again moved to an asylum center in Ballyhaunis, a town in County Mayo. The medical scientist noted that her family had to deal with the uncertainty of whether they could stay in Ireland permanently for 10 years while in Ballyhaunis. She credited her mother for getting her to college before she qualified for grants, despite not knowing if she would be allowed to finish.
“People shouldn’t be made to stand still for years and years,” said Uba.”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.”
The beauty queen worked through the pandemic at Galway University Hospital where she monitored the inflammatory process in COVID-19 patients. She is also an activist and helps children in the direct-provision asylum system.
One of Uba’s charities congratulated her when she was Miss Galway for raising money for children in the asylum system.
The 2021 Miss Ireland said that she was hurt by the racism she was subjected to on social media after her win for Miss Galway, especially because she’d worked so hard to make Ireland her home. However, Uba isn’t deterred and plans to use her new title as Miss Ireland to represent a more diverse country.