To kick off our Book review column, we have chosen to review “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives“, the highly acclaimed first novel by Lola Shoneyin published in 2010 by Cassava Republic Press. Although it has been 8 years since the book was released, the title got us wondering: who is Baba Segi? and what exactly could be so ‘secret’ about the lives of his wives?
The irony and charm we encounter in this book can only be described as perceptive literary skill. Lola Shoneyin tells the plight of a wealthy man caught in a web of uncertainty spun by his insatiable libido and quest for female conquest.
Sadness saturates the Alao family at the invitation of a fourth wife, a young graduate who evidently stands out from the other wives but is unable to prove the strength of her husband’s manhood. Distraught, Baba Segi is forced to invite a certified doctor to thoroughly examine her, an action which leads to a major turning point in the family as a gruesome secret is uncovered: Baba Segi’s manhood is no different from that of a child!
The story is filled with deceit, betrayal, hypocrisy, abuse and moral decadence. It expounds the relevance of fertility in a polygamous family. Contrary to a monogamous family where the husband tends to be considerate when his wife is without child for over two years, Baba Segi kicks love and patience to the curve, as he is of the belief that the woman’s existence is useless if she fails to produce seeds. The other wives who also capitalize on this belief, try to frustrate Bolanle out of their husband’s house.
The book gives a dynamic view of polygamy in a seamless manner that makes it easily understood by the readers. The writer’s use of dry wit and tongue in cheek humor makes the entire piece warm, lively.
Have you read “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives” by Lola Shoneyin? Let us know what your thoughts about it in the comment section!