OFFA: HOME OF SWEET POTATOES
Offa, Kwara Home of Sweet Potato Logo – The Wrestler Mascot: The Peacock
Offa is a city located in Kwara State, central Nigeria with a population of about 150,000 inhabitants. The vegetation in Offa is savanna 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 Offa favorite 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 livestock raised in the town. The key religions practiced in the town are Islam, Christianity, and traditional religions. It is the second largest town in Kwara state, after Ilorin, the state capital. Offa is a major stop along the Lagos-Kano railway (since 1907), which has attracted employees of Nigerian Railway Corporation from all over the country.
Offa was founded towards the end of the 14th century by a Yoruba prince from Oyo. Offatedo in Osun state, Offa Igbo, Iyana Offa, both 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 Eesa, Ojomu, Saawo, and Balogun. The praise name of Offa is “Ijakadi L’oro 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 is also the founder of Okin Biscuits. Both institutions have brought him and Offa fame throughout Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region.
Offa is centrally located and is surrounded by many neighboring towns like Erin-Ile in the south, Ijagbo in the north, Igosun, and Ipee in the east, and Ilemona, Ira, Ikotun, and Ojoku in the west. Igbodun and Igbonna are some of the surrounding towns of Offa responsible for its tremendous expansion in the past forty years. The Owode market, established in 1958, is the foremost market in Kwara State which contributes significantly to boosting the economy of the State.
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.
The supreme traditional ruler (king) of the town is the Olofa who is assisted by five High Chiefs namely Eesa, Ojomu, Saawo, Balogun, and Asalofa who superintend over traditional wards/district. There are two hundred and fifty-nine traditional compounds (clans). Offa is delineated into twelve electoral wards. Since the founding of the town in the late 14th century, twenty-four Kings, (Olofas) have ruled as follows:
Ofa means arrow in the Yoruba language, and the founder of the town was known as Olofagangan- the warrior with a sharp arrow. The town was originally named after this hunting implement of its founder; however, the name became anglicized by the Europeans who spelled it as pronounced. Hence the addition of another letter ‘F’ in the spelling of OFFA. A successive consonant is an aberration in Yoruba grammar. Offa is the cultural headquarters of the Ibolo people, which was regarded as an integral part of the old Oyo Empire which was divided into four administrative
divisions (Ekun Otun, Ekun Osi, Epo, and Ibolo). The Ibolos consist of towns, villages, hamlets, and farmsteads between Ilorin and Iwo; hence 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 (originally named Omowumi), an Offa indigene who saved the Ile-Ife kingdom from the Ugbo invaders. Today, a two-story imposing edifice known as the Moremi Hall of Fame stood at the old spot of Moremi shrine in Offa. During the ceremony, wrestling contests are held in which High Chief Eesa and the Olofa will engage in mock wrestling contests (Ijakadi). There is also ‘Laare’ a symbolic cutting of a tuber of yam into two equal halves which is a reenactment of the equity, fairness, and justice brokered by an Olofa between two feuding brothers over a tuber of yam. These three traits are major identifiers of an Offa indigene anywhere in the world. These cultural spectacles are on display at the annual Ijakadi Festivals that hold every December in the ancient town.
The umbrella socio-cultural organization in Offa is Offa Descendants’ Union (ODU) which was founded in Lagos, Nigeria by Offa indigenes in 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 the establishment of secondary schools, encouragement of investors, and supporting artisans and other professional bodies. The body mobilized all Offa indigenes and well-wishers to construct an ultra-modern barracks which was donated to the Nigeria Police for the use of the Mopol 68 situated in the town.
Offa indigenes are well educated and the town can boast of over one hundred professors in varied academic fields. There are 141 primary schools, 76 secondary schools, and 13 tertiary institutions in the town. 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 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 the Navy School of Health Sciences, Graceland Polytechnic, Lens Polytechnic, and Summit-University; Offa (the University of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria) which is the first University in Offa. 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.
Other Economic Amenities
There are 9 commercial banks and 5 micro-finance banks in the town. Offa also hosts about 12 factories and medium-size industries. There are 8 hotels of international standards, 14 guest houses, 12 events halls, and modern eateries.
Dunmoye R. Ago (2009) Olofa Chieftaincy Tussle, 1959-1969. A.B.U, Press Zaria. Johnson, Samuel (1921) The History of the Yorubas. CSS Ltd Lagos.
Olafimihan J.B (1950) Iwe Itan Offa (History of Offa) Ibadan. (Published by ODU) Olawoyin J.S (1993) My Political Reminiscences 1948-1983. John west publications Lagos.
“Adesoye College – Nigeria’s top private boarding secondary school education”.
Calculated from https://www.worldometer.nfo.ng. as of May 2020, the population of Nigeria is 206,139,589
Daily Trust (January 7, 2018) “Ijakadi: Offa’s big wrestling festival”.
SuperUser. “Population Distribution By Age and Sex: 2006 Census Priority Tables (Vol
“.population.gov.ng. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
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 IN YORUBA METAPHYSICS.
A God’s own town and unique Yoruba people in the Kwara State of Nigeria.
“Iyeru Okin Olofa Mojo” and “Ijakadi Kata Kiti Ni Oro Offa” are unique lyrics in Offa Oriki that can and should not be overlooked.
As a “Peacock” prides in the display of its feathers so average Offa person prides in glorifying the Almighty God for being His personal person in Offa.
“Ijakadi Kata Kiti Ni Oro Offa” connotes more of esoteric meanings than its literal ” Wrestling Agility a Rite of Offa” as portrayed in its Oriki or eulogy lyrical lines.
Offa cannot boast of a wrestler like Jonny Kwango or Power Mike but just it is a ritual dramatic display of wrestling between the Olofa and his next in command the Eesa.
In this context, diplomatically the Eesa is landed in ritual wrestling like Richard Lander almost parked like Mungo Park.
That context is the unique selling point of diplomacy in mundane wrestles and challenges of life.
A typical and world-renowned success story of Offa wrestling agility in reality in History was that of Moremi, an Offa Princess and Heroine who displayed wrestling agility of her town pride to save the entire Yoruba race from the incessant onslaught of Ife by the Ugbos of the riverine area of current Ondo State and not of the Eyimbas Eyin of Eastern Nigeria.
Similarly, the average Offa person sees life from its dual nature but more to combat and wrestle with difficulties of life and surmount them.
Where there is darkness current is tapped from ever shinning Light of the Creator so in religious practices Offa doesn’t quarrel but unite in faiths.
Where ignorance and crude pagan practices obtain, they wrestle and agile in education and enlightenment.
They hence are generally free-minded and emancipated from mental and personality cultish slavery.
Offa is Communal in orientation and leverage on personal, independent, and communal development whether or not the government supports.
Friendly in content and context, very cosmopolitan in relationships thus, Offa to date remains such a recess and resort town for even non-indigenes.
Culturally fantastic, naturally endowed.
Offa is both popular in pride for visible achievements but also gathers storms if ensued in the story of communal clashes with the neighbouring community(s).
Moremi site once an “Eye Sore” though in the best location of traditional history but thanks to its recent befitting monolith as monument and “Hall of Fame”.
Peaceful co-existence though occasionally faces a challenge in politics of neighborliness and partisanship personality patronages, yet like recurring decimal is the thought and admonition that for no reason should Offa family fabrics be allowed torn into shreds. Be religious and/ or irreligious, Satan to us, and for us should remain a lier.
God forbids and may the God of Light, Life, and Love deploy Peace Profound to His children in Offa, those in diasporas, and our beloved neighbors alike all over the world.
” Ti Ogun ba ja wa a ya Omo Ale, Ogun ko ja wa a ya Omo Offa o.” If engulfs in war or its skirmishes we are bastards but in Peace, we are true children of Offa.