…I won 200 pounds, 4 beautiful cotton dresses and a trip to London- Atinuke Oyelude, Miss Nigeria 1957
In her 80’s, Madam Atinuke Oyelude never believed she would be crowned Miss Nigeria when she contested in 1957 as there was no preparation. Still with flawless look and poise, the agile grand mum still struck the red carpet so well. As we look ahead of the 60th anniversary and 41st edition of the prestigious pageant, Mama Atinuke shares her journey to the beauty world with MUTIAT ALLI on becoming the queen in 1957.
What is the difference between Miss Nigeria then and Miss Nigeria now?
Then beauty pageant was really beauty pageant. The whole prestige was around it. Looking at that time and now, there are so many things you emulate and so many things you bring back.
What were the pageants like?
To be honest, I only experienced one Miss Nigeria since I was crowned Miss Nigeria, may be 60 years ago.
So you didn’t crown the next person?
I was not even in the country. This (the 39th Miss Nigeria) was the first one that I have actually met.
How was the pageant during your time?
During my time, we had the camp before the grand finale. We had to camp like 2 weeks, where all the girls came together and experienced one another. It was like a group camp, there were training sessions for different vocational activities. At the last day of the camp, we started with the dance individually; we had to come out with our evening dresses from designers’ sponsor, then they pick top 10 out of 21 and they asked all of us question. Then they picked the top 5, then they picked the 3rd runner up the 2nd runner up and the winner.
What was the experience like, the process involved before the big day?
We did what was expected of us. I was living in Kano then and like I always said, 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 I should go to Lagos. I had not applied to be a Miss Nigeria, then he said he saw it in an advert that anyone who wants to be a Miss Nigeria should apply. So he applied, and the result came that I was supposed to be in Lagos for the Miss Nigeria and I was working in the UAC then, and they also were involved in the Miss Nigeria. The following day, they got me on the plane to Lagos and that was it.
So what happened later?
When we arrived in Lagos, there was no accommodation, so we all had to look for our accommodation. We were asked to come to the Daily Times office. So 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 in my life, and was looking forward to that. So we met and they told us to come back; that was three weeks running. We went back to the Daily Times office; there was no much interview that time.
Can you recall some of the questions that were asked?
Well, they asked simple questions like where you came from, our background, funny enough, they didn’t ask us why we wanted to become Miss Nigeria because I won’t have known what to say.
So what happened on the grand finale?
On the day of the Miss Nigeria was on a Saturday of 1957. We met at Lagos Island Club. We were offered drinks and someone came and told us we would be asked to go to a wall and many people around and then they asked us to walk around. There was music of late Bobby Benson that was playing; then we went round the first time, the second time and the third time they asked us to go and sit down. We sat down, then later a late Miss lady Alakija and a lawyer, two of them came and they left. However, after a short while, they made the announcement of the new queen which I was but myself I didn’t hear until someone touched me that I was announced the winner and I was Later 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 one of the people that were in the broadcasting profession in Nigeria and he was on duty when they told him and he said ‘that’s my sister’ and that is the story of how I became Miss Nigeria.
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 back to work and I was given 200 pounds. Then, that was a lot of money, a wardrobe filled with four beautiful cotton dresses and a trip to London.
Part of the things you were taught in the competition, do you remember posing for camera?
Camera!!! If you check, most of the pictures taken with me and my other contestants, we stood normally in the photographs not the regular posing that is the order of the day now.