The Miss Nigeria story: ‘My brother applied for the pageant for me’ -First Miss Nigeria,  Atinuke Grace Oyelude

Now in her 80’s, Atinuke Grace Oyelude never believed she would be crowned Miss Nigeria when she contested in 1957 as there was no preparation whatsoever. Still with flawless look and poise, Mama Nigeria pageant was thrilled at the 39th edition of Miss Nigeria. In this chat with , Mrs. Oyelude narrated her journey to becoming the queen in 1957 and sundry issues.


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Pamela and Mrs. Atinuke

What is the difference between Miss Nigeria then and now?

Then beauty pageant were really beauty pageants, the whole prestige was around it. Looking at that time now there are so many things you emulate and so many things you bring back.

What was the pageant like?

To be honest, I only experienced one Miss Nigeria pageant since I was crowned.

So you didn’t crown the next person?

I was not even in the country. This is the first time that I have actually met one.

What was the experience like, the process before the big day?

We did what was expected of us, I was living in Kano. I have always been repeating the same thing, my brother saw it in the papers that I had to go to Lagos because I had been selected as one of the Miss Nigeria to be interviewed in Lagos. So, he said go to Lagos, I had not applied to be a Miss Nigeria, then he saw it in an advert that anyone who wants to be a Miss Nigeria to apply, so he applied, and the result came that I was supposed to be in Lagos for the Miss Nigeria completion. I was working with UAC then, and they also were involved in the pageant. The following day, they got me on plane to Lagos and that was it.

What happened later?

When we arrived in Lagos, there was no accommodation. So we all had to look for our private accommodation. We were later asked to come to the Daily Times office. We all met, about 200 of us. I was the only one from Kano. We were interviewed, I told them I flew for the first time. We met and they told us to come back three weeks later. We went back to the Daily Times office. There was no much interview that time.

What were the questions asked then?

They asked simple questions like where you come from, our background; funny enough, they didn’t ask us why we want to become a Miss Nigeria, because I wouldn’t have known what to say.

After the interviews and other process; what eventually happened at the grand finale?

On the day of the Miss Nigeria proper which was on Saturday in 1957, we met at Lagos Island Club. We were offered drinks and someone told us we would be asked to go to walk around. There was music by late Bobby Benson. We went round the first time, the second time and the third time. Later they asked us to go and sit down. We sat down, later Lady Alakija and a lawyer came and left. However, after a short while, they made the announcement of the new queen which I was but I didn’t hear until someone touched me that I was announced the winner. I was taken up to the stage and that was how I became Miss Nigeria and that night, I had to find my way home. My brother was a broadcaster, he was on duty when they told him and he said my sister has won.

What did you think the criteria were?

I don’t even know what they were looking for and majority of us didn’t know.

Were there any benefit or did you get to win anything?

I said after the Miss Nigeria, I went straight to work. I was given 200 pounds. Then that was a lot of money, a wardrobe with four beautiful cotton dresses and a trip to London.

Part of the things you were taught in the pageant, do you remember posing for the camera?

Camera!! If you check most of the pictures, myself and other contestants stood normally in photographs not the regular posing that is the order of the day now.


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