lmesi—Ekiti was founded by Ojugbaye, one of the grandsons of Oduduwa. He was reported to have migrated from llare Quarters Ile-Ife at the same time with his brothers—Oloya (Leader of the Omuos) and Olode. The three brothers with their followers journey through, among other places, Igbajo, Ijero and Ikole. Oloya settled with his people at Omuo, the Olode at Ode while Ojugbaye continued his journey downwards Ose River to settle at the present site of Imesi-Ekiti.
Nobody could say with certainty when lmesi—Ekiti was founded but the number of Kings that had ruled the town and the longevity of their respective reigns points to the fact that the town must have existed by the 16th century. Oba Festus Olatunji Olatunde Olaibiyemi II, the present Onimesi of Imesi-Ekiti is the 21st Oba to reign and the reigns of the last three span over a century. The past and the present rulers of Imesi Ekiti are as follows:
- Adegite (Alias Yaya) 1876-1909 (Ojugbaye II)
- Adeyeye Oladimeji I Sept. 17th 1955 to 22nd December, 2018.
- Oba Festus Olatunji Olatunde (Olaibiyemi II) the present Onimesi
At the heights of her power, Imesi’s influence was felt as far as River Ofifa (near Aere), now the boundary between Kabba and Akoko Division. Imesi kings had immense influence on the establishment of towns like Isinbode, Egbe, lro, Eda, Ilasa, Irun, Afin, Ese, Oge (Oke Agbe were reported to have migrated from Imesi-Ekiti).
Historical evidences now only clearly show that the Onimesi of Imesi is one of the crowned Obas in Yoruba land, but also that Imesi-Ekiti was once, one of the very powerful kingdoms in the Yoruba hinterland before the wars of the 19th century.
Such was its power, influence and prosperity that by the 18th century the central part of the town was carpeted with potsherd, a feature associated only with ancient towns like Ile—Ife, Oyo and Benin. In addition, the original founders of other Imesi’s —Okemesi, Imesi—ile (in Oyo State) and Imasai (in Ogun State) were reported to have migrated from Imesi— Ekiti as a result of dynastic disputes.
However, the fratricidal and internecine wars of the 19th century which devastated the Yoruba country, dealt a disastrous blow on the fortunes of Imesi-Ekiti. As reported, the town was attacked at seventeen different occasions before she was subdued, ravaged and many of the inhabitants carted away to other parts of Ekiti land in particular and Yoruba land in general.
Thus, Imesi-Ekiti which was one of the powerful Yoruba kingdoms was completely eclipsed by the consequences of the devastating wars to the extent that at the end of the 19th century there was considerable lose of sight of her important position in the history of Yoruba land.
Imesi-Ekiti could boast of only a Primary School, St. James’s School by the middle of the present century. But by the middle of the 20th century, Imesi has four Primary Schools, a Secondary School (named after the founder of the town) a Maternity Centre and motorable road network. The favourable disposition of Imesis to strangers (an offshoot of Oba Olaibiyemi strategy of repopulating a devastated kingdom) had led to an influx of people from other parts of the country to the town. As at now, the town has over eighty (80) camps/farm steads (some with Primary Schools) inhabited mainly by the Akokos, Ebiras, Ibos and Hausas. These have led to an unprecedented increase in the social political and economic activities in the town.
For a long time, Imesi-Ekiti, was derogatively referred to as ‘Lasigidi a suffix that had been discovered to be of no historical or cultural importance to the town. The decisions of Imesi Sons and Daughters to remove the suffix ‘Lasigidi’ was formally granted and gazetted by the State Government, thus restoring the original name of the town to Imesi-Ekiti.
The name ONIMESI describes/depicts him as the original owner of Imesi; as the title of her offshoots are either Owa or Oloja