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I became first Miss Nigeria by accident ¨C Chief Grace Oyelude A Nurse - Nursing Heroes - Nurses Arena Forum

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I became first Miss Nigeria by accident ¨C Chief Grace Oyelude A Nurse by walex : November 18, 2014, 08:12:30 PM
Chief Grace Atinuke Oyelude, the Iyelolu of Isanlu land and Iyalode ofOkun land, was the first ¡®Miss Nigeria,¡¯ a crown she won in 1957 after emerging winner among about 200 other participants, aged 26. She was born in Sabon Gari, Kano on Nov 16, 1931, to the family of late Pa James Adeleye Oyelude and late Mama Martha Jasmine Datanu of Isanlu in Kogi State.  Oyelude had her primary and secondary education between 1940 and 1952 in Kano. After her secondary education, she worked with the United African Company (UAC) in Kano during which she participated in the ¡®Miss Nigeria¡¯ contest. She later enrolled at Schoolof Midwifery, St. Thomas Hospital, London, and qualified as a midwife in 1962. On her return to Nigeria, she worked at General Hospital, Kaduna between 1964 and 1965, and then became Senior Nursing Sister-in-charge of the former Kaduna Nursing Home (now Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital) from 1965to 1970.  She then joined the Institute of Health, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, as a Senior Matron and became Director, Nursing Services, a position she held until she voluntarily retired in 1985. Oyelude, who will be 84 in November, reminisces about her participation in the contest, the impact it had on her life and the general state of the nation.Weekly Trust: What did it mean to be Miss Nigeria in your days?Chief Grace Oyelude:I was the first one. I didn¡¯t know what it meant before I went to Lagos, I didn¡¯t apply for it. I was the very first MissNigeria.How did you get to know about it?My younger brother who is late now, it was on a Sunday and I went to Kaduna, I lived in Kano then. When I came back my brother, late William Oyelude came and said, ¡®Sis, I have something to show you, but you have to give me six pence,¡¯ you know what six pence was?; you didn¡¯t use it in your time. Then, six pence was a lot of money for any young person then. And I said, ¡®What is it?¡¯ He said he would not show me the magazine until he got his six pence first. It was a cutting from Daily Times magazine. So, to have peace, I gave him the six pence and he showed me my picture in the Daily Times. It was a Sunday   Times then. And I asked, ¡°how did it get there?¡± He said he sent my picture and all they required in those days was to send your picture and tell them why you want to be a Miss Nigeria and he did it.(Cuts in): Without your knowledge?Without my knowledge, he just gaveme the newspaper. I never asked where he got the newspaper, I thinksome of his friends saw and drew his attention to it and he got it fromthem. So, that was how I became Miss Nigeria. I had never flown before. I was asked to come to Lagos. I was in the UAC then, Unilever to be precise, and my manager came and said...by the way Miss Nigeria - then it was sponsored by the UAC through the Daily Times - the manager came and said they want me to go to Lagos and they would give me a ticket to fly to Lagos and the excitement was all about flying to Lagos, nothing else. I didn¡¯t expect anything else.On getting to Lagos, we were asked to go to Daily Times office, we went there. In those days there were no cars, you had to walk to wherever you wanted to go and things like that. Even if there were cars, there were no taxis and only the rich people had cars and my parents were not rich.How many of you participated then?More than 200 were invited. I don¡¯t know how many people applied, but about 200 of us went to Lagos.Was it also in the form of show as itis presently done?No, there was nothing like show, absolutely no. You just go there, they would ask you to walk round; itwas in Island Club. They would ask you to walk with whatever you wore. There were no bikinis   they wear now to reveal their God-given things. So, we walked and the band was playing. The band then was Bobby Benson. They just announced that I was Miss Nigeria and that was it. So, I flew back to Kano two days later to associate with my friends and two days later Iflew back to Lagos and I was offered 200 pounds and a boutique of four dresses as well as a hairstyle, that is all what kept me for two days and a trip to England for two weeks.How was your experience in the UK then?That was before independence. Theexperience was so fantastic. I seized that opportunity...Before then I had applied for Northern Nigeria scholarship to go abroad tostudy Nursing and it didn¡¯t come before Miss Nigeria contest. So, when I got to England, I was given one day off to do whatever I wantedto do. So I seized that opportunity. Iwent to the school I had applied forand got my admission and everything in one day. That is what Ican remember about my UK trip.As soon as I came back, I think it was around April then. In September I went back to start my training. I went straight to the school. In fact, I was about a week late. They had started lectures.Has been the first Miss Nigeria in anyway changed your life?My lifestyle? No. I will say being a nurse changed my life, because I was able to do what I had wanted todo all my life.But through the Miss Nigeria contest?Yes I told you they gave me 200 pounds. They gave me a wardrobe and a trip to the UK. When I came back from England after my training, I was employed by the Northern Nigeria government and that is how my life started in Nigeria.While you were still in England, the agitation for Nigeria¡¯s independence had reached a crescendo. What was the struggle like then?I came back from England in 1962 though I came home for the independence. I was in Lagos for the independence, I was also invited, but Miss Nigeria was 1957 and independence was 1960. So, it was before independence.When did another Miss Nigeria emerge?Believe me I don¡¯t know, but I think it was a year after or two, I don¡¯t know because I never attended anything to do with Miss Nigeria. Infact, nobody knew where I was. After some time I was invited to a few which I never attended.In essence you were not keen aboutit?No. I didn¡¯t know it was coming andit arrived. What I had in my mind was to go abroad and study Nursing, because in those days, we only had two (types of) education for women-popular ones, nursing and teaching; those were the two.How old were you when you became Miss Nigeria?I will give you some arithmetic to do. 1931-2014. I was born on November 16, 1931. I think that gives me 83, going to 84 now.Was there anything you considered like a challenge then?No. I told you all I wanted was to become a nurse and I achieved my ambition. That was the only ambition I had and I achieved it.What is your impression about the pageant now?I just attended one last July where I crowned Miss Nigeria. In fact, that was my first outing after 1957. Things have changed. You cannot compare my time with now.What about the bikinis you said they put on now?Well in my town, did you see my picture in 1957? I was tying my mother¡¯s Aso Oke. It is different now. But the one I attended was a very nice, decent one, there was nothing like bikini. I don¡¯t think I likemy grand-children to be in bikini anyway.Those in pageant are considered aseither promiscuous or wayward, doyou believe that?You know I hardly go out now, I don¡¯t know what the girls do, but I doubt it. Even now they are all professionals; well educated young ladies. I don¡¯t think so except probably the way they dress and the dressing is even better now. You know the bikini wearing is not Nigerian. I don¡¯t like it; people don¡¯t like wearing a bikini.To what extent do you think they portray the Nigerian culture?I don¡¯t know. I honestly don¡¯t know. Nigerian culture has been given outto Western culture and most of the girls are in and out of Western countries, European countries and things like that.What was girl-child education like inyour days?Not much especially in the North. I feel proud now seeing all these young girls now as ministers, commissioners, permanent secretaries. In my time, there was nothing like it. Girl-child education, like I said earlier on, you either become a nurse or teacher. We have the first female lawyer in the Northern Region who is now the Chief Justice of the Federation, I am very proud of all of them. I watchedthe women programme yesterday, it was fantastic. I wish I was young, I was there age group. I wish I was 40 instead of 80, but I am very happy, I am quite happy.What is your reaction to the current phenomenon of rape especially of minors?It is terrible. I hate to talk about it. They should do whatever they can do to people doing that... I don¡¯t even want to talk about it, because it is too much for me. I can¡¯t imagine things like that. So, I don¡¯t want to talk about it.What do you think should be done to curb the trend?They should make an example of a few of these people-cut their neck off their body. Get them out of the society, because they are mad people; they are not normal and they cannot be normal. Anybody who can do things like that cannot be normal at all.People believe the rampant rape cases are a reflection of moral decadence in our society, do you agree with that?No, it is just that they are crazy, mad people and they shouldn¡¯t be in the society. They should get rid of people doing things like that. Notleave or jail them and then come back and repeat the same thing. They should get rid of them from the society. I don¡¯t want to talk about it. It is too much for me, too bad and too filthy. They should get rid of people like that and make an example of them. Then, anybody who has the intention of doing that;no matter how mad they are would change their mind.You were in the health sector as a nurse, what is your impression about our health system now compared to what it was in your days?The health sector is not the same aswhen I was there. I am not going to go any further than that.At what point do you think we derailed?I go abroad a lot and in most placesI go in America, in Britain, majority of the doctors there, nurses, health careers there are from Nigeria.Nigeria is celebrating its centenary, 100 years of amalgamation. Does this call for celebration?What are we celebrating? I thought about it before. There are a lot of things going wrong. We have all these universities and young peoplegraduating without jobs. In my time, it was like begging you to come and work. I told you I got scholarship from Northern Nigerian government to study abroad. I love Nigeria and I wish it goes back to where it was when I was growing up. It was very nice. I used to speak fluent Ibo. I am Yoruba, but I can speak better in Hausa than Yoruba. I can read and write in Hausa. I can read and writein Yoruba. Most of us who were around during the colonial days, I think were very lucky to have had what we had. It is not easy to get a scholarship now.Some believe our colonisation was a curse and not a blessing; that it has not augured well for the country, do you subscribe to that assertion?The British came and colonised us. They did what they thought was best for us at that time. What really have we done to improve on that? There are a lot of things I won¡¯t like to talk about.What is your take on the security challenges confronting Nigeria?It is so unfortunate what Nigeria has turned to. If I have a meeting inLagos, I will drive from Zaria alone in the car, drive from Zaria to Lagosto attend a meeting without thinking of anything. If I am tired, I would stop by the roadside, have a nap and continue. But now who dares do that? Except you have some army people following you behind, you can¡¯t do that. Then we don¡¯t even care to know where anybody else comes from, we grew up together. Whether Hausa, Yoruba or Ibo, we all grew up together like sisters and brothers. Look at what is happening to us now.Do you have any hope that Nigeria can ever regain its lost glory?Yes, it will. It will take time though, but it will. What haven¡¯t we got? We have got the human resources... What haven¡¯t we got? Tell me. We have this oil that came and splashed everything off our hands. In Kano in those days when I was young, you had the groundnut pyramids; you had the hide and skin. You had cotton that we sent abroad, took all over the world. We don¡¯t see them nowadays. We have a lot of resources in this country. Nigeria is blessed. I have always said it and if I come back again, I will still want to be a Nigerian, because I will like to see what it hasbecome.

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