Title: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
Author: Lola Shoneyin
‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ book is a hilariously well written, page tuner story set in the village of Ibadan, Nigeria. It revolves around Alao’s family polygamous family headed by its patriarch, Baba Segi, who is rich, yet very illiterate.
Being a polygamous family, with all the wives living under the same roof, envy and jealousy is displayed in different ways. Though the first three wives have managed to live with each other and get through the misunderstandings between them, drama unfolds when Baba Segi marries the fourth wife, Bolanle, who is the only educated graduate in the Alao’s house. This fact intimidates the other wives which makes Iya Femi say;
‘So what if she is a graduate. When we stand before God on the last day, will He ask whether we went to University? No! But He will want to know if we were as wise as serpents because that’s what the Bible says we should be.’ – Iya Femi
Bolanle’s low self-esteem leads her to this decision because she’s fleeing from; her dark past life, loneliness, depression and more so her mother’s constant rants.
‘Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t only come here to get away from my mother; I came to escape the feeling of filth that followed me. If I stayed at home, I knew the day would come when Mama would open my bedroom door and find pools of blood at my wrists.’ – Bolanle
What she saw as a scapegoat, turned out to be a wrong move! The peace in the household is rattled and Iya Segi together with Iya Femi, (Baba Segi’s first and third wives respectively) will stop at nothing in making the life of Bolanle a living hell, all in the bid of getting their husband to send her packing. Baba Segi on the other hand is more disturbed with the fact that his graduate wife is yet to bear him a child.
During one of his visits to Ayikara, a town where promiscuity and ‘wisdom‘(so they say) is the norm, Teacher, Baba Segi’s confidant friend, advises him to take Bolanle to hospital to establish a cure for her barrenness. It’s at this point that the ardour of Bolanle’s childlessness is unveiled.
Lola Shoneyin is a genius ya’ll. I loved her diction and how simply she wrote the book making it easier for the reader to follow with the story line. It’s detailed in the sense that she hasn’t sugar-coated some words which might appear as obscene to others. I liked it though! She said it as it is. Why be so hypocritical?
The fact that the book’s chapters are segmented in each character narrating their own story makes it even more interesting.
The humour is undeniably laughable to. I found myself giggling like a retard whenever I read something funny. There are instances where I also had to fight back tears. The book is that captivating!!
You’ll love it from the front cover to the back cover. Each page flipped brings along with it something new.
I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fascinating, easy, African literature read.
Am currently reading Disgrace by J.M. Coetezee. I’ve moved from West Africa down to South Africa! Yay to African Literature 👊👊.