The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives (by Lola Shoneyin)

secret lives of baba segi's wives

“WHEN BABA SEGI AWOKE with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife’s childlessness. He was sure the pain wasn’t caused by hunger or trapped gas; it was from the buildup of months and months of worry. ”

I’m currently taking a Jane Austen class, and one of the things that scholars find most appealing about her is that her works hold both popular and academic appeal. Lola Shoneyin is similar. If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud, you should read this. If you’re looking for a fast-paced book that will consume your hot summer day without your knowing, this is the book for you. If you enjoy reading books that remind you of the limitlessness of language, you’ll enjoy this. If you would like to read something that gives an extremely nuanced portrayal of polygamy in contemporary Nigeria, go no further. If you’d simply like to read a book whose author is Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s daughter-in-law, go right ahead.

I remember liking this book because of the way it told such a heavy story – one tackling African gender politics – without itself making any value-based judgments. It is the first popular text in African literature that I have come across that deals with same-sex desire. Its honest portrayal of desire in all its forms is enough to make it a masterpiece. Soon into the story, you realize that there are no villains – only people who are trying to make the best of their own lives. I came for the humor and stayed for the keen social commentary. For you, it could be vice versa. Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives.

Summary from Amazon.com

Meet Baba Segi . . .

A plump, vain, and prosperous middle-aged man of robust appetites, Baba Segi is the patriarch of a large household that includes a quartet of wives and seven children. But his desire to possess more just might be his undoing.

And his wives . . .

Iya Segi—the bride of Baba Segi’s youth, a powerful, vindictive woman who will stop at nothing to protect her favored position as ruler of her husband’s home.

Iya Tope—Baba Segi’s second wife, a shy, timid woman whose decency and lust for life are overshadowed by fear.

Iya Femi—the third wife, a scheming woman with crimson lips and expensive tastes who is determined to attain all that she desires, no matter what the cost.

Bolanle—Babi Segi’s fourth and youngest wife, an educated woman wise to life’s misfortunes who inspires jealousy in her fellow wives . . . and who harbors a secret that will expose shocking truths about them all.

Post submitted by Kanyin

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