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 (Location of the Olumirin Waterfalls), Ipetu Jesa, Ijebu Jesa, Esa Oke, Ipole, Ifewara, Iwara, and many others. Ilesa is the largest town and capital of the old Ijesha Kingdom.
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.
Rev. Williams Howard Clark
The Ijesas are the “Osomaalos” of Nigeria. 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. Ijesha people are known to be very hardworking, industrious, resourceful and widely travelled. They are also one of the most educated group of people, a lot of them have excelled in different works of life. Ijesha is home to the popular Iwude-Ijesa festival which depicts a rich cultural heritage.
Several prominent quartzite ridges lie east of Ilesha, and gold mining is an important activity in the area, i.e. The Iperindo Gold field. Like many other Yoruba states, an account of the origin of Ijeshas claims historical link with Ife. Early rulers of Ilesha, the modern power center of Ijesha claim links with Ibokun fourteen miles to the North of Ilesha. Obokun, the Owa’s ancestor is said to be a descendant of Oduduwa who lived in Ibokun, subsequently, Owa resided in Northern Ijesa-land.
Notable Nigerians from Ijesha are Chief Bola Ige, Professor Isaac Adewole, Pastor E.A. Adeboye, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Samuel Fadahunsi and a host of others.