From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ilesa is located in Nigeria
Location in Nigeria
Coordinates: 7°37′0″N 4°43′0″E / 7.61667°N 4.71667°E / 7.61667; 4.71667
CountryFlag of Nigeria.svg Nigeria
StateOsun State
 • Owa Obokun AdimulaAromolaran II
 • Total305.480
 (metropolitan area)

Ilesa (Yoruba: Iléṣà) is a city located in the Osun State, south west Nigeria; it is also the name of a historic kingdom (also known as Ijesha) centered on that city.[1] The state is ruled by a monarch bearing the title of the Owa Obokun Adimula of Ijesaland.[2] The state of Ilesa consisted of Ilesa itself and a number of smaller surrounding cities.[3]

The Ijesa, a term also denoting the people of the state of Ilesa, are part of the present Osun State of Nigeria.[4] Some of the popular towns of the Ijesa are Ibokun, Erin Ijesa, Ijeda-Ijesa, Ipetu Jesa, Ijebu-Jesa, Esa-Oke,Esa Odo, Ipole Ijesa, Ifewara Ijesa, Ipo Arakeji, Iloko Ijesa, Iwara Ijesa, Iperindo Ijesa, Erinmo Ijesa, Iwaraja Ijesa, Erin Ijesa, Idominasi, Ilase Ijesa, Igangan ijesa, Imo Ijesa, Alakowe Ijesa, Osu Ijesa, Eti Oni, Itaore, Itagunmodi, Itaapa, Epe Ijesa, Omo Ijesa, Eti-oni, Ibokun, Inila, Ijinla, Iloba Ijesa, Odo Ijesa, Imogbara Ijesa, Eseun Ijesa, Iloo, Owena Ijesa, Ido Ijesa, Ido Oko Ibala Ijesa, Idominasi, Ilowa, and Ibodi.[5]

The state of Ijeshaland was founded c.1300 by Ajibogun Ajaka Owa Obokun Onida Raharaha, a warlike grandson of Emperor Oduduwa.

A Series Of Excerpts From The Oral Records Of The Ijesa[edit]

According to the historian Samuel Johnson:

The Olofin, king of Ile-Ife, had several children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren ; amongst them were the king of Ado or Benin, the king of Oyo, the Osemawe of Ondo (from a daughter), the Alara of Ara, the Ajero of Ijero, the Alaye of Efon-Alaye, the Owore of Otun, the Orangun of Ila, the Aregbajo of Igbajo, and the Owa Ajaka of Ilesa.

When the Olofin became blind from old age, he was much depressed in mind from this cause ; efforts were put forth to effect his cure, all of which proved fruitless, when a certain man came forward and prescribed for him a sure remedy which among other ingredients contained salt water. He put the case before his children, but none made any effort to procure some for him save his youngest grandson. This was a very brave prince who bore the title of "Esinkin" amongst the King's household warriors, a title much allied to that of the Kakanfo. He was surnamed "Ajaka", (i.e. one who fights everywhere, on account of his proclivities and his being fond of adventures). He volunteered to go and fetch some wherever procurable.

Having been away for many years and not heard of, the aged sire and every one else despaired of his ever coming back; so the King divided his property amongst the remaining grown-up children. Although the Alado (king of Benin) was the eldest, the Oloyo was the most beloved, and to him he gave the land, and told him to scour it all over, and settle nowhere till he came to a slippery place, and there make his abode; hence the term "Oyo" (slippery) and thus Oyos are such slippery customers! After they had all gone and settled in their respective localities, all unexpectedly, the young adventurer turned up with water from the sea!

The monarch made use of it as per prescription and regained his sight! Hence, the Ijesas who subsequently became his subjects are sometimes termed "Omo Obokun", children of the brine procurer. Having distributed all his property, he had nothing left for Ajaka. He therefore gave him a sword lying by his side with leave to attack any of his brothers, especially the Alara or Alado, and possess himself of their wealth, but should he fail, to retire back to him; hence the appellation "Owa Ajaka Onida Raharaha" (Owa the ubiquitous fighter, a man with a devastating sword). The Owa Ajaka settled a little way from his grandfather, and on one occasion he paid him a visit, and found him sitting alone with his crown on his head and — out of sheer wantonness — he cut off some of the crown's fringes with his sword. The old man was enraged by this act, and swore that he would never wear a crown with fringes on.

The Aregbajo was one of those who had a crown given to him, but the Owa Ajaka, paying him a visit on one occasion, saw it, and took it away, and never returned it. As a result, the kings of Igbajo never wear a crown to this day. The Owa also attacked the Olojudo and defeated him, and took possession of his crown; but he never put it on. On every public occasion however, it used to be carried before him. This continued to be the case until all the clans became independent.

The Owa's mother, when married as a young bride, was placed under the care of the mother of the Oloyo, hence the Alaafin of Oyo often regarded the Owa as his own son. The Orangun of Ila and the Alara of Ara were his brothers of the same mother. The Ooni of Ife was not a son of the Olofin, but the son of a female slave of his whom he offered in sacrifice. The Olofin kept the boy always by him, and when he sent away his sons, this little boy took great care of him and managed his household affairs well until his death. When the Oloyo succeeded his grandfather, he authorised the boy to have charge of the palace and the city, and he sent to notify his brothers of this appointment. So whenever it was asked who was in charge of the house, the answer invariably was "Omo Oluwo ni" (It is the son of the sacrificial victim). This has been contracted to the term Ooni.

The Owa and his brothers used to pay the Alaafin annual visits, with presents of firewood, fine locally-made mats, kola nuts and bitter kolas ; the Owore of Otun with sweet water from a cool spring at Otun — this water the Alaafin first spills on the ground as a libation before performing any ceremonies. The other Ekiti kings used also to take with them suitable presents as each could afford, and bring away lavish presents from their elder brother. This Ajaka subsequently became the first Owa of the Ijesas.


Colonial assessment[edit]

The city was described by the Rev. William Howard Clark in 1854 in the following manner:

For its cleanliness, regularity in breath and width, and the straightness of its streets, the ancient city of Ilesa far surpasses any native town I have seen in black Africa.


The Ijesa Monarchs[edit]

There are four royal houses amongst which accession to the throne is supposed to be rotated: Biladu, Bilagbayo, Bilaro and Bilayirere. Rulers, under the title of Owa Obokun Adimula, have been as follows:

Owa Ajibogun -
Owa Owaka Okile
Owa Obarabara Olokun Eshin
Owa Owari 1466 - 1522
Owa Owaluse 1522 - 1526
Owa Atakumosa 1526-c. 1560
Yeyelagagba 1588 - 1590
Yeyegunrogbo 1590 - 1591
Owa Biladu I 1652 - 1653
Owa Biladu II 1653 - 1681
Yeyewaji 1681 -
Owa Bilaro 1681 - 1690
Owa Bilayiarere 1691 - 1692
Owa Bilagbayo 1713 - 1733
Yeyeori 1734 - 1749
Ori Abejoye 17.. - ...
Owa Bilajagodo "Arijelesin" ... - ...
Owa Bilatutu "Otutu bi Osin" 1772 - 1776
Owa Bilasa "Asa abodofunfun" 1776 - 1788
Owa Akesan 1788 - 1795
Owa Bilajara 1... - 1807
Ogbagba 1807–1813
Obara "Bilajila" 1813–1828
Owa Odundun 1828–1833
Gbegbaaje 1833–1839
Ariyasunle (1st time) -Regent 1839
Owa Ofokutu 1839–1853
Ariyasunle (2nd time) -Regent 1853
Owa Aponlose 1858 –1867
Owa Alobe 1867–1868
Owa Agunlejika I 1868 - 1869
1871 Vacant 4 Jun 1870 -
Owa Oweweniye(1st time) 1871–1873
Vacant 1873
Oweweniye (2nd time) 1873–1875
Owa Adimula Agunloye-bi-Oyinbo "Bepolonun 1875 - 1893
Owa Alowolodu Mar 1893 - Nov 1894
Vacant Nov 1894 - Apr 1896
Owa Ajimoko I Apr 1896 - Sep 1901
Owa Ataiyero [Atayero] 1901–1920
Owa Aromolaran 1920–1942
Ajimoko "Haastrup" -Regent 1942 - 10 Sep 1942
Ajimoko II "Fidipote" 10 Sep 1942 - 18 Oct 1956
J. E. Awodiya -Regent 18 Oct 1956 - 1957
Owa Biladu III "Fiwajoye" Ogunmokun 1957 - Jul 1963
... -Regent Jul 1963 - 1966
Owa Agunlejika II 1966–1981
Owa Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran II 1982 - ?

Notable people[edit]

Coordinates: 7°37′N 4°44′E / 7.617°N 4.733°E / 7.617; 4.733


  1. ^ "Osun 2014: Ijesa North Traditional Rulers Declare Support for Aregbesola". Archived from the original on 6 February 2015.
  2. ^ "From Ancient to Modern Cities". Archived from the original on 6 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Ajayi Emerges New King of Erinmo-Ijesha". Archived from the original on 6 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Osun 2014: The Battle for Aregbesola's Job". Archived from the original on 6 February 2015.
  5. ^ Trager, Lillian (2001). Yoruba Hometowns. ISBN 9781555879815.
  6. ^ Johnson, Samuel (1921), The History of the Yorubas, from the earliest times to the beginning of the British protectorate, p. 23-25.
  7. ^ "Ilesha". Litcaf. 16 February 2017. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  8. ^ Donnelly, John (10 March 2004). "A name, not a number - Taipei Times". Taipei Times. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2020.

External links[edit]