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Ilesa Monarchs

About Ilesa

Ilesa is a city located in west of Nigeria; it is also the name of a historic state (also known as Ijesha or Ijesa) centered around that city. The state was ruled by a monarch bearing the title of Owa Obokun adimula of Ijesaland. The state of Ilesa consisted of Ilesa itself and a number of smaller surrounding cities.  The Ijesa, a term also denoting the people of the state of Ilesa, are part of the present Osun State of Nigeria. Some of the popular towns of the Ijesa are Ibokun, Erin Ijesa, Ipetu Jesa, Ijebu Jesa, Esa Oke, Ipole, Ifewara, Iwara, Erinmo, Iwaraja, Idominasi, Ilase, Igangan, Imo and many others.

Ilesa is home to the famous and prestigious
Ilesa Grammar School, a school founded by Egbe Atunluse Ilesa and alma mater to many Nigerians including a former Chief Justice of the Federation, Alfa Belgore, a former Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and the former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Prof Oye Ibidapo Obe.

Hon. Justice Kayode Esho Prophet T. O. Obadare I. K. Dairo  Professor  Banji Ayoola Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe Professor David Olowokere

 It is also alma mater of Professor Banji Ayoola, MD, Fellow, American College of Physicians, Medical Director of Kent General Hospital and Bay Health Medical Center, southern Delaware's largest healthcare system, as well as Professor David Olowokere, Professor and Chairman, Department of Engineering Technologies, Texas Southern University

Ilesa - A major military centre

Ijesa military prowess is summed up in this war song "Ijesha ree arogun yooo..ye so'gbodo fowo kan omo obokun ri a......" "An old Yoruba community, Ilesha was an important and major military centre in the campaigns against Ibadan, 60 miles (97 km) west-Southwest in the 19th-century Yoruba civil wars. A leading member of a confederacy known as the Ekitiparapo meaning 'Ekiti together'. This combined forces of the Ijesa and Ekiti was formed to fight for the independence of their people.

The town has a memorial to Ogedengbe, an Ijesa warrior-leader who died in 1910. This is because he played a vital role during the kiriji war of the 19th century, which prevented Ilesa and other towns from being conquered and dominated by Ibadan and other powerful regions.

His Highness, Chief Saraibi Ogedengbe, Oba-Ala Ogedengbe of Ilesha I  (The Obanla of Ijeshaland).

The first generation of the Great Ogedengbe dynasty. He was born in Ilesha in the early 19th century and died in 1910.

Ilesha was the capital of the Yoruba Ilesha kingdom of the Oyo Empire towns in Osun State. In 1817 a long series of civil wars began in the Oyo Empire in which hundreds of people died; they lasted until 1893 (when Britain intervened), by which time the empire had disintegrated completely.

Ilesha, formerly a caravan trade centre, is today an agricultural, commercial and processing city situated in a region in which cacao, kola nuts, palm products, and yams are produced. There is a sawmill, and alluvial gold is found and mined.

Ilesa - Home of "Osomaloo"

Ilesa State was founded c.1500. Ilesha (or Ilesa) is the largest town and the capital of Ijesha kingdom in Osun State, Nigeria.
Latitude 8.92°N Longitude 3.42°E. it lies in the Yoruba Hills and at the intersection of roads from Ile-Ife, Oshogbo, and Akure.
There are many other towns and villages in Ijeshaland, in fact not less than 200 towns and villages. Ipetu-Ijesa, Esa-Oke, Ijebu-Jesa, Ibokun are towns that have between 100,000 and 120,000 inhabitants. There are other towns like Imesi-Ile, Ikeji-IIe, Ifewara, Erin-Ijesha, Esa-Odo, Kajola, Otan-Ile, Owena-Ijesha etc.

The Ijesas are the "Osomaalos" of Nigeria. As described in the book by Omole (1991) the appellation was originally considered as a term of abuse to characterize the aggressive Ijesa textile traders. The word ‘Osomaalo’ is tied to the process of debt collection. It means ‘I will not sit until I have collected my money,’ showing an inflexible determination to succeed in the face of all odds.

Ilesa - In modern times

Modern Ilesha is a major collecting point for the export of cocoa and a traditional cultural centre for the Ilesha (Ijesha) branch of the Yoruba people. Palm oil and kernels, yams, cassava, corn (maize), pumpkins, cotton, and kola nuts are collected for the local market. Local industries manufacture nails and carpets, and the town has a brewery; there are also a recording company and a publishing firm, and the Supreme Oil industry at Ilesha. Several prominent quartzite ridges lie east of Ilesha, and gold mining is an important activity in the area, i.e The Iperindo Gold field.

Ilesha is a classic - though hardly a typical - example of that ethnographic celebrity, the Yoruba town: a large, nucleated settlement that is the centre of a kingdom and itself the primary residence of an overwhelmingly agricultural population. Even when it was largely derelict owing to war, in 1886, Ilesha's population was estimated to be between 20,000 and 25,000 and a figure of up to 40,000 may be appropriate for the height of its growth before the sack in 1870. Though this is not as large as the largest Oyo-Yoruba towns of the nineteenth century, its considerable size was not due,as theirs was, to very heavy recent immigration under the impact of the wars.

It was the recognition of the need for the Ijesa to lift up themselves by their own bootstraps that led to the establishment of the Ijesa Improvement Society, the first modern pan-Ijesa socio-cultural group, in 1922. It was at a time when the Ijesa not only had problems with their British colonial overlords but also with their own local administration under the Owa Obokun who had since 1914 been constituted into a Sole Native Authority on the model of the Northern Nigeria Emirates, under the Indirect Rule of System introduced by Sir Fredrick Lugard. This meant that the Ijesa had to contend not only with a hostile foreign colonial power but with a despotic local administration supported by that foreign colonial power. In this kind of unpleasant political climate, the best help was self help.

The principle of self help, which was elevated to a philosophy of action by the aggressively individualistic Ijesa in the inter-war years, was to assist the socio-economic development of Ijesaland and to make the Ijesa very cautious towards, if not totally suspicious of all governments be it local, regional or national in the post war and pre-independence era. This explains why the few commercial and industrial establishments in Ijesaland today are owned largely by the Ijesa themselves. Indeed, with the exception of the recent Federal Government efforts to exploit the gold deposits at Itagunmodi and Igun in Atakumosa Local Government area, there are virtually no government-sponsored commercial and industrial undertakings in the whole of Ijesaland."