The Offa Art & History
Offa is a city located in Kwara State, central Nigeria with a population of about 120,100 inhabitants. The vegetation in Offa is savanna vegetation and the town is noted for its weaving and dyeing trade, using vegetable dyes made from locally grown indigo and other plants. Offa is well known for the cultivation of Sweet potatoes and maize which also formed part of the favourite staple foods of the indigenes in the town. Offa in one of her eulogy is being addressed as the home of sweet potatoes. Cattle, goats and sheep are also raised in the environs. The main religions practiced in the town are Islam, Christianity, and traditional religions.
The ancient tradition for which the town is known is wrestling. Offa’s rich history is comprehensively documented in a book written by James Bukoye Olafimihan an educationist and clergyman titled ‘Iwe Itan Offa’, literally translated The Book of the History of Offa. Iye Iru Okin (Iyeru Okin)
Offa Mascot – Peacock
Offa is on the railway line from Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria, and Offa served as the railway terminus before the line was extended north to Kano and Nguru. Offa is the second largest town in Kwara state, located in central Nigeria with geographic coordinates of 8’9N 4’43E. Offa was founded towards the end of the 14th century by a Yoruba prince from Oyo. Offatedo in Osun state, Iyana Offa in Oyo State, Offa in Cote d’Ivoire are peopled from Offa. The traditional head is the Olofa, who is assisted by prominent knighted chiefs including Esa, Ojomu, Sawo, and Balogun. The praise name of Offa is “Ijakadi Loro Offa”, a Yoruba phrase meaning “wrestling is our game”. The city’s mascot is the peacock bird which is one of the most prominent exotic avian species in the region and also because the town is a beautiful place. Offa has more recently become well known in Nigeria for being home to Adesoye College, one of the most prominent private schools in Nigeria. The school’s proprietor, Chief Adesoye was also the founder of Okin Biscuits. Both institutions brought him and Offa fame throughout Nigeria.
Offa is centrally located in the midst and middle of many neighboring towns like Erin Ile in the south, Ijagbo in the north, Igosun, and Ipee in the east, and Ilemona, Irra, Ikotun, and Ojoku in the west.
Offa indigenes are well educated and the town has over one hundred professors in varied academic fields. There are several secondary schools, three Polytechnics, and a University. The first primary school, St. Mark’s (Anglican) Primary School was established in 1912 by the Church Missionary Society, and Offa Grammar School which is the first community secondary school in the defunct Northern Nigeria was established in 1943. The Federal Polytechnic was established in Offa in 1992. The Kwara State College of Health Technology was also established earlier in 1976. Other tertiary institutions include Navy School of Health Sciences, Pan Africa College of Education Graceland Polytechnic, Lens Polytechnic and Summit University, Offa (the University of Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria). Summit University was established in 2015 and commenced academic activities in 2017. In 2020, it obtained full accreditation from the National Universities Commission for all its academic Courses
The umbrella socio-cultural organisation in Offa is Offa Descendants Union (ODU) which was founded in Lagos, Nigeria by Offa indigenes on 13th October 1935. All other socio-cultural groups in the town are affiliates of ODU. The Union has branches in all states of Nigeria and abroad. It has been involved in development efforts like establishment of secondary schools, encouragement of investors, medical outreaches, supporting artisans and other professional bodies
Offa means arrow in Yoruba language, and the founder of the town was known as Olafagangan-the warrior with a sharp arrow. Offa is the cultural headquarters of the Ibolo people, which was regarded as an integral part of old Oyo Empire. The Ibolos are also found in the present Osun State. The major traditional ceremony is ‘Onimoka’, which is an annual event to celebrate the memory of Queen Moremi an Offa indigene who saved the Ile-Ife kingdom from invaders. During the ceremony, wrestling contests are held in which the traditional Chiefs including the Olofa will engage in mock wrestling contest (Ijakadi). According to the Olofa, during the eight edition of the festival in December 2019, the festival demonstrates Offa people’s “love for equity, justice and fairness as well as the resilience and unity of the community (the Sunnews online). Offa is also well known for the Owode market, the foremost market and pivot of economic activities not only for Offa and its environ but also for Kwara and neighbouring states.
he supreme traditional ruler (king) of the town is the Olofa who is assisted by four High Chiefs namely Essa, Ojomu, Sawo, and Balogun. There are two hundred and five thousand traditional households. Since the founding of the town in late 14th century, twenty four Kings, (Olofas) have ruled as follows:
List of Olofas in Order of Succession
1. Olalomi Olafagangan – the founder of Offa who came from Oyo through Ile-Ife
2. Olutide – 1442 -1491
3. Olugesinde – 1491-1526
4. Oluwole – 1526-1567
5. Okunmolu – 1567-1624
6. Olusanle – 1624-1679
7. Olusanmi – 1679-1726
8. Olugbense – 1726-1786
9. Bamgbola Arojojoye – 1786-1800
10. Amodu Agaka – 1800-1803
11. Olumorin Anilelerin – 1803-1832
12. Alade Alebiosu – 1832-1844
13. Ariyibi Omolaoye – 1844-1850
14. Morounfolu Okunoye – 1850-1882
15. Adegboye Atoloyetele – 1882-1887, and 1901-1906
16. Arokan Otaogbaye – 1887-1901
17. Oyediran Ariwajoye I – 1906-1917
18. Adeyeye Arojojoye – 1917-1920
19. Abioye – 1921-1926
20. Esuwoye I – 1926-1936
21. Wuraola Isioye – 1936-1957
22. Mustapa Keji – 1957-1969
23. Mustapha Olanipekun Ariwajoye II – 1970-2010
24. Mufutau Gbadamosi Esuwoye II – 2010
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