What if your entire existence is a lie; a big, fat hoax? How does one’s heart not break into shards, when the shawl covering their ugly reality comes off and the truth stares them in the face?EZIOMA KALU.
African-born poet Lola Shoneyin makes her fiction debut with The Secret Lives of Babi Segi’s Wives, a perceptive, entertaining, and eye-opening novel of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. The struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union come to life in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives—Big Love and The 19th Wife set against a contemporary African background.
If you want to have a glimpse at a polygamous family, then this book will do the perfect magic. A polygamist, Baba Segi, who feels he is the norm, prides himself as the father of seven kids from three different wives. He is a successful business man, who tries his best to provide for his wives, Iya Segi, Iya Tope and Iya Femi.
Baba Segi only wants to have a large household, and by his books, success amounts to how many kids you have and how many wives you’re able to feed.
I can’t explain why but I wanted her for myself. I wanted to build a house for her and keep the key between my breasts. I wanted to dress her in the finest aso oke so she could parade herself for my delight alone. I wanted to lock her between my thighs.Lola Shoneyin, The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives.
The wives in turn grudgingly manage to accommodate themselves, and it is easier for Iya Segi and Iya Femi, like-minded women, to team up against the timid second wife, Iya Tope.
They try to live peacefully as co-wives in the family, but draw the line when the man of the house introduces a new wife to the flock. It’s easy to hate Bolanle the new wife, because she is the only educated one among them.
So Iya Segi and Iya Femi, who feel threatened by the new wife’s poise and personality, decide to make the place hell for her, so she’d quietly leave. Because they cannot have her steal the affection their husband have for them, and which they have suffered to earn over the years, they try everything they can to frustrate her, but shoot themselves in the leg instead.
Only a foolish woman leans heavily on a man’s promises.Lola Shoneyin, The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives.
The book is written in simple sentences, and multiple perspectives. It is structured in such a way you see the the story in the eyes of different people, which in turn aid in understanding the plot better. You know it’s really easy to hate on someone from your own perspective, because you do not understand what they’re feeling and what’s going on in their lives. And that is why I’m thankful I read this book from the perspectives of the wives and so I understand how deeply they feel whatever they feel, and the rationale behind all their actions. If I had not read Iya Femi’s part, I’d have simply hated her and termed her a wicked woman because of how she treats Bolanle.
But she, and the other wives all have their stories, bitter pasts that nobody else knows about. They all have their secrets under lock and key, which will be unraveled before the end of the book.
I love the themes explored in this book. There’s the theme of the dangers of polygamy. If we’re being realistic, we will know that polygamy has more disadvantages than any advantage it has. One is that there is constant jealousy among the wives. As humans, there is nothing wrong with wanting to monopolize the love and affection of your spouse, and so when it’s no longer happening, you tend to be jealous and then do things you won’t otherwise have done.
Then there’s the theme of lies and deceit. These wives have terrible secrets that would shock any reader when they finally unravel what they’re all about. I can’t even imagine being in Baba Segi’s shoe, because when she discovers the lies and secrets his trusted wives are hiding from him, he becomes undone.
My daughters were born with eyes in their stomachs so they are quick to digest all that they see.Lola Shoneyin, The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives.
I really enjoyed reading this book and will highly recommend. The narrative technique is topnotch and it is captivating. But it has a very boring beginning. I had begun this book a couple of times in the past, but dropped it and chosen another, because the beginning didn’t grip me. However, when I decided to start it and read it all the way down, I wasn’t disappointed. If anything, I was grateful I did. And I’ll rate it as 4.89/5.
Have you read the book? What do you feel about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on all social media platforms and share with your friends.
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8 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI’S WIVES BY LOLA SHONEYIN.”
Beautiful review, one of my fav books. Funny I relate with one or two things about each of these women but mostly I am Bolanle. I love how her marriage and moving into Baba Segi’s house became was for a purpose even though she had to face hardships for it to unfold.
Thanks for reading
I love the book too.
Reading your article helped me a lot and I agree with you. But I still have some doubts, can you clarify for me? I’ll keep an eye out for your answers.