Cultural historians the convergence of the ethnic group, the Ijesas to the 10th Century going by the reign of the first Owa Obokun Ajibogun who ruled between 1150-1255 AD. Between the reign of Owa Ajibogun and now there were thirty nine other Owas culminating in the Ascension of the incumbent, the 40thOwa Obokun Adimula, His Imperial Majesty, Alayeluwa Oba ( Dr) Gabriel Adekunle Aromolaran 11CFR,LLD.
However, it’s quite interesting and noteworthy that there were six female Owa Obokun. They were: Owa Yeye Ladegba, Owa Yeye Gurogbo, Owa Waji, Owa Waiye, Owa Waiyero and of course Owa Ori Abejoye.
The history of what is today Iwude Ijesa was originally called Iwude Ogun which was traditionally designed for the Owa to come out once in a year for the people to see and feel their monarch presence. IWUDE in Ijesa dialect and parlance was and still ' in wu jade la wOwa'!as he was not seen in public all the time.
The Iwude Ijesa Festival as it was being celebrated was mainly structured to serve spiritual, cultural and traditional purposes and was not truly embraced by people of modern divergent adherents as it was considered fetish in nature.
Many Ijesa sons and daughters home and abroad were not interested as it was believed to be contrary to modern dictates.
This lukewarm attitude persisted until the year 2008 when some Ijesa elders and leaders came together to rebrand the festival to conform with modern dictates to attract all Ijesa sons and daughters as a forum to come together once in a year as a reunion.
The more reason it’s now designed to take place during the Christmas Yuletide when it will be convenient for all to come home.
The rebranded Iwude Ijesa festival had as it's pioneer Chairman, Chief Akinwande Akinola, the Sawe of Ilesa (2008-2013),Chief Olu Falomo, the Lofosan of Ifosan, Ilesa (2014-2018),Prof Olu Odeyemi (2019)and Chief Afolabi Igbaroola FCA (2019 till date)
The rebranded Iwude Ijesa festival has now been expanded to include amongst others, schools debate among secondary school students in ijesaland, marathon race for recreation, football competition and other recreational activities to foster unity in Ijesaland.
Most important of all is the entrenchments of unity and brotherliness among the citizens of the six local government Areas in Ijesaland.
All the traditional rulers, chiefs and sundry indigenes were rejuvenated to see themselves as one.
The aspirations and focus for the future as espoused by the present Iwude Ijesa Planning Committee has been the effective construction of a functional Secretariat which the Chief Afolabi Igbaroola lead executive has been able to put in place tagged ,Institute of Cultural Affairs, where students can come to research into Ijesa historical genealogy and cultural heritage.
Also of paramount importance is the listing of the Iwude Ijesa Festival in the UNESCO Heritage Site which is in top gear and would soon come to fruition.
This little attempt at chronicling the history of the Iwude Ijesa Festival is in commemoration of the YEAR 2023 EDITION.
This write up is to welcome all Ijesa sons and daughters home and abroad to their ROOT! OBOKUN A GBE A O!
Written by Bunmi Oladele Esq. and Powered by the Iwude Ijesa Planning committee under the Chairmanship of Chief Afolabi Igbaroola FCA.