Monday 7 February 2022

Yoruba Universe

Crowdfunding, Crowdfinance, Microfinance? Esusú and Àjọ have existed in Yorubaland for centuries.

Crowdfunding is defined as the practice of funding a venture by raising monetary contributions from a number of people.

Here in Europe and also in North American, this new industry is a money spinner. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years you would have heard of "Gofundme", "Indiegogo", "Kickstarter", "Crowdcube" etc or reports of people raising thousands or millions of Euros/Pounds/Dollars online. This exciting industry raised raised $34.4 Billion In 2015!

But how did this start? Surely this is not a European or an American invention but an African one.

Prof William Bascom (1) discovered the following in 1937 during his field work in Ile Ife:

"The esusú, one of the economic institutions of the Yoruba of Nigeria has elements which resemble a credit union, an insurance scheme and a savings club, but it is distinct from all of these. The esusú is a fund to which a group of individuals make fixed contributions of money at fixed intervals; the total amount contributed by the entire group is assigned to each of the members in rotation. Aside from the Yoruba, there is an excellent description of this institution among the neighbouring Nupe where it is knowns as dashi (adashi in Hausa), with essentially the same pattern. It has also been recorded among the Negroes of Trinidad, where it is known as susu and where it is obviously an African retentions which can be traced back to a Yoruba origin..."

Also In 1934 C.F. Strickland(2), a British cooperative expert, examined the esusú as a possible basis for modern cooperative societies in Western Nigeria.

There we have it! An African invention now a big money spinner in western world. We the originator however failed to improve and modernise it and bring it into the 21th century!

Àjọ, a variant of Esusú is the daily/weekly/monthly deposit collection at doorsteps or market stalls.

Banks and Credit Unions are very important in the economy of a society. They play a major role in wealth creation.

Ọ̀yẹ̀kú Ọ̀wónrín tells us more about Ajé (Economic Wealth)...

Ajé Kaarọ o

Ajé olókun

Ògúgú lùsọ̀

Ajé oniṣọ booji

Asèwe dàgbà

Asàgbà dèwe

Ẹni ti ẹrú ati ọmọ n fi ojojúmọ́ wa kiri

Ìwọ ni labọmọn ti bori aye

Ajé Ìwọ làjíkí

Ajé Ìwọ làjígẹ̀

Ajé Ìwọ làjípè

Ẹni amuṣokùn

Ẹni amuṣẹdẹ

Ìwọ lani ra ọ̀pọ̀lọ́pọ̀ aran aṣọ ọba ti kona yanranyanran

Ajé àgbà oriṣa jẹ ki n lówó majẹ ki ni ẹ lọrun

Ajé fi ilé mi ṣe ibùgbé, fi ọ̀dẹ̀dẹ̀ mi ṣe iyàrá

Ajé o jire loni oo.....


Good morning Aje

You Aje, the owner of the sea

You are the one who owns the shelter

Under you, people seek solace

You promote the younger to the position of the elder

And demote the elder to the position of the younger

You are the one being sought by both the slave and the free born

You are the formidable force that rule the world

You are the one we wake up to greet

You are the one we wake up to praise

You are the one we wake up to call upon

Through you beaded jewelries are acquired

Through you costly brass is acquired

Through you several expensive velvet and shinning clothes fit for a king are acquired

You the chief among the gods, give me money and don't let me be a burden to you

Aje come and live in my house, use my corridor as your bedroom

Aje, you have risen well today....


1.Bascom, William R. - The Esusu: A Credit Institution of the Yoruba. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 82, No. 1 (Jan. - Jun., 1952), pp. 63-69

2.Strickland, C. F., 1934: Report on the Introduction of Cooperative Societies into Nigeria. Lagos, Government Printer

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