The Ijesa are the traders and business icons amongst the Yoruba people; very good in commerce and have cut a niche for themselves as the architects of ‘Osomaalo’ business in 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.
This popular trading method allows customers to pay for goods in installments.
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. Ogedengbe 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.