The Birth and evolution of the Miss Nigeria Pageant show

Doris Ukaonu
The Birth and evolution of the Miss Nigeria Pageant show

1957 saw the birth of a beauty pageant show in Nigeria, one that now features not just beauty but also other positive attributes that every woman is meant to have. The beauty pageant was established before Nigeria’s independence and has since then, commanded national and global relevance.

Miss Nigeria is organized by the National newspaper company, Daily Times. The Daily Times began the pageant show as a photo competition. Unlike what we now have, the contestants of the pageant during its inception were limited.

Before the contestants could make a physical/live appearance, they were to send photos of themselves to the headquarters in Lagos, and only the successful contestants made a live appearance in the Miss Nigeria contest.

Sixty-two years down the line, Miss Nigeria pageant has now grown to become a reality show that offers a tertiary scholarship to the titleholder.

The first winner of Miss Nigeria, Grace Oyelude who is currently 87 years old won herself the sum of £200, at the time, a scholarship was not inclusive, so Grace used part of her winning to sponsor herself to England where she studied Nursing. She went on to become a midwife, registered nurse, and a hospital administrator.

Grace Oyelude, from Kogi, represented the Northern region in 1957.

The second winner of the Miss Nigeria Pageant, Helen Anyamaeluna, represented the Eastern region of the country. She was crowned Miss Nigeria in 1958 at age 19. Helen was not only known for her beauty, the young Miss Nigeria was also known as an intelligent and industrious woman.

In 1959, Nene Etule, a Cameroonian is the only foreigner to have won the title. This was possible then as Southern Cameroon was under Nigeria.

Miss Nigeria displayed its love for patriotism in 1960, as the Miss Nigeria pageant was called the Miss Independence pageant in that year.

When Miss Nigeria started, contestants only represented their states. This was why each contestant was required to have a number tag, but the narrative changed in the 2013 edition, where the contestants represented themselves. Each contestant dropped the number tag for their own names.

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The Birth and evolution of the Miss Nigeria Pageant show
From “Black Rainbow.” Credit: Kassim Taiwo.

The beauty pageant features things such as skill acquisition for entrepreneurship, and skill sharpening among other things.

Miss Nigeria has been so many things since its inception. In 2010, it was reinvented as a scholarship program for the first three winners. The scholarship allowed the winner to choose any higher institution of her choice worldwide. However, this changed in 2013 as the school of choice is now restricted to only Nigeria with winners going home with the diamond-encrusted crown, a luxurious car, a whopping sum of NGN 3 million, an apartment for that year, and a modeling contract.

In 2016, Miss Nigeria started a social initiative for women called the Green-Girl project.

Miss Nigeria’s last edition was in 2018 and was won by Miss Chidinma Leilani Aaron from Enugu state.

Miss Nigeria since its inception has crowned 42 winners from all across the country. Some contestants, like Miss Yemi Idowu who won the contest for the Western Region in 1962 went on to contest globally.

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