As cheesy as this may sound, community has always been an integral part of my life. This is a lot coming from an introvert who would rather stay in her room and fangirl over Jungkook from BTS or watch the latest Korean drama, but in the midst of a global pandemic, hours away from home and at university, it had me thinking: ‘What happens when that community breaks down?’ Not breaking down in terms of love or support, but rather what happens if a community loses financial stability and is unable to support each other? Now, that is scary.
I remember growing up, I always heard the term ‘owó àjọ’ and I was always curious about what it meant. My mom would never explain it to me, and “Wo, Bashirat fi mi lẹ!” (“Look Bashirat, leave me alone!”) is the response I would always receive. However, as I began to have more mature conversations with her about my finances, I learned that owó àjọ is essentially a financial support system that has been practiced in Yorùbá communities for years. It can be deemed as a community savings collective, and it was common to see women trading in the market contribute generous portions of their profits to these collectives back home in Nigeria. It’s important to note that mutual aid is not exclusive to Yorùbá communities or Nigerians in general, but has been extremely common in Black communities for years.