The Irish have something to celebrate.
Pamela Uba made history when she was the first black woman crowned Miss Ireland 2021 on Sept. 5.
The 26-year-old earned the title and the golden tiara at the outdoor ceremony in Cavan along with making history for the beauty pageant, which has been around since 1947.
Uba was working as a model and a medical scientist during the pandemic before becoming a beauty queen. She traveled from Johannesburg, South Africa when she was 7 as an asylum seeker to start a new life in Ireland.
She told the Irish Times she thought it was “strange” that when she first arrived in Ireland, she “couldn’t hear gunshots.” She admitted she “cried” when she finally received her Irish passport.
“It means so much to me,” Uba said of her win. “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.”
The oldest of six siblings, Uba said she spent time in cities such as Dublin before moving to Balluhaunis in Co Mayo where she spent 10 years there with her mother and siblings.
Come December, Uba will represent the land of potatoes and Irish whiskey at the 70th Miss World pageant 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,” Uba gushed.
Uba plans to use her title and position to present a more diverse Ireland. “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 admitted.
She also sent letters to politicians during her family’s asylum-seeking process, adding, “We are all human, and we all deserve the same love and respect.”
“My parish priest was my referee for my citizenship. I’ve had so much support from my community in Galway and Ballyhaunis, who are all cheering me on,” Uba said of the support she received from her community.