They resided at Ile Ife, i.e., prior to the reign of Sango. Human sacrifices were common in those days, and in order to have victims ready to hand, it is said that a number of slaves were purchased
and located in the district of Ibokun ; there they were tended as cattle, under the care of Owaju, and from them selections were made from time to time for sacrificial purposes ; hence the term
Ijesa from Ije Orisa (the food of the gods). They are described as stumpy, muscular, and sheepish-looking, with a marked want of intelligence : they never offered any resistance to this system,
hence the saying “Ijesa Omo Owaju ti ife opo iyk ” (Ijesas children of Owaju, subject to much sufferings). There is also a legend that when the nations began to disperse from Ile Ife and members of the Royal Family were appointed kings and rulers in diverse places, a young and brave scion of the house was appointed the first Owa or king over the Ijesas, but that he returned to the alafin and complained that his territory was too small, and his subjects few, the sire thereupon ordered a large bundle of sticks to be brought to him, and these sticks he converted into human beings for the Owa, in order to increase the number of his subjects. Hence to this day the Ijesas are often termed by their neighbours ” Qmo igi ” (offspring of sticks !)
This, of course, is a pure myth invented by their more wily neighbours to account for the notorious characteristics of the Ijesas generally, who are as proverbially deficient in wit as they are remarkably distinguished for brute strength.
But one fact holds good down even to our days, viz., that up to the recent total abolition of human sacrifice by the British Government (1893) the Ifes, who, far more than any other, were
addicted to the practice, always preferred for the purpose to have an Ijesa victim to any other ; such sacrifices were considered more acceptable, the victims being the ” food of the gods.”
This preference was the cause of more than one threatened rupture between the Ifes and their Ijesa allies during the recent 16 years’ war, and would certainly have developed into open fights, but
for the Ibadan army vis-d-vis threatening them both.
The other account relates chiefly to the present day Ijesas of Ilesa (the home of the gods) the chief town. According to this account, they hailed from the Ekitis ; or as some would more correctly have it, they were the Ijesas from the neighbourhood of  Ibokun who first migrated to Ipole near Ondo, and thence back to Ilesa. It appears that a custom then prevailed of going out hunting for their king three months in the year, and on one such occasion they found game so plentiful in the neighbourhood of Ilesa, the chmate very agreeable, the country well-watered, and the Ijesas there extremely simple, peaceful, and unwarhke (probably the remnants and descendants of the old sacrificial victims) whilst at home they endured much oppression from their Owa, that they there and then conceived and carried out the idea of settling on the spot at once, making it their home, and of reducing into subjection the aboriginal inhabitants.

These objects were easily enough accomplished ; but they spared the principal chief, a kindly old gentleman who had an extensive garden plantation. He was called ” Oba Ila,” i.e., Okra king,
from his Okra plantation, and he was placed next in rank to the chief of the marauders. That nickname is continued to the present time as a title Oba’la^ and is conferred on the most distinguished chief after the Owa of Ilesa. It would appear then that although the term Ijesa is retained by the people of that district, and those who are ignorant of the origin of the term take some pride in it, yet it is evident that the present inhabitants are not all of them the descendants of the aboriginal settlers, the ” food of the gods,” but are largely from the Ekitis by admixture ; the pure type Ijesas are now and again met with at Ilesa and neighbourhood.
Oba-Ala on arrival at the Owa of ilesa palace
This fact is further shown by the want of homogeneity amongst the principal chiefs of Ilesa at the present day, for when the town was growing, the settlers did cast about for help ; they sought for
wiser heads to assist them in the building up and the management of their country, e.g., from the Oyos or Yorubas Proper they had the Odgle from Irehe, the Esawe from Ora, the Saloro from Oyo (the ancient city), and the Sorundi also from the same city — all these came with a large number of followers ; from the Ondos, the ‘Loro, and the Salosi from I jama in the Ondo district ; from the
Ekitis, the Arapate from Ara, the Lejoka from Itaje ; and lastly, the Ogboni from the white cap chiefs of Lagos, the only one privileged to have on his headgear in the presence of the Owa. The Owa himself is as we have seen, a junior member of the royal house of Oyo.

It is also said that when the town of Ilesa was to be laid out a special messenger was sent to the alafin to ask for the help of one of the princes to lay out the town on the same plan as the ancient city of Oyo. That prince ruled for some years at Ilesa.


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