In 1957, a young woman named Grace Atinuke Oyelude made history by becoming the first ever Miss Nigeria beauty queen. She won the crown without exposing her body like what we see in most beauty contests today.
Her modesty and elegance captured the hearts of the judges and the public, and she became a role model for many Nigerian women.
The Miss Nigeria contest started in 1957 as a photo contest, organized by The Daily Times newspaper.
To participate, contestants just had to send photographs of themselves to The Daily Times headquarters in Lagos. After that, finalists were shortlisted, and successful finalists were invited to compete in the live final at the Lagos Island Club.
Mrs Oyelude, who was born in Kano in 1931, represented the then Northern region of Nigeria, where she was working as a clerk at the United Africa Company (UAC).
She was one of the 200 contestants who sent their photos to the newspaper, and one of the 15 finalists who made it to the live final.
At the final, Mrs Oyelude wore a simple dress made from Ankara fabric, which she had sewn herself.
She also wore a matching head tie and a necklace. She impressed the judges with her intelligence, poise, and charm, and beat the other finalists to win the title of Miss Nigeria.
As the first Miss Nigeria, Mrs Oyelude received a cash prize of 200 pounds, an expensive bicycle, and a two-week trip to England. She also became the face of The Daily Times and a celebrity in Nigeria.
She used her fame and influence to promote education, health, and social welfare for Nigerian women and children.
After her reign as Miss Nigeria, Mrs Oyelude travelled to England, where she gained qualification to become a nurse. She later returned to Nigeria and worked as a nurse and a midwife.
She also got married and had 10 children. She is now a grandmother and a great-grandmother, and lives in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Mrs Oyelude is widely regarded as a pioneer and a legend in the history of Nigerian beauty pageants. She set the standard for beauty, grace, and dignity for generations of Nigerian women.
She is also a testament to the diversity and richness of Nigerian culture and heritage. She is an inspiration to all Nigerians, especially women, who aspire to achieve their dreams and make a positive impact on society.