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Book Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

“When we stand before God on the last day, will he ask whether we went to university?” ― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

I came across this book at the beginning of 2016. Not sure why but it had so many good reviews and mentions in January.At some point, it seemed as if everyone in Kenya was reading and talking about The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. My Book Club also caught the fever and like everyone else, they too recommended the book. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I had to check it out. Last weekend, with six hours on the road, I finally got a chance to read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.

“A real woman must always do the things she wants to do, and in her own time too. You must never allow yourself to be rushed into doing things you’re not ready for.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

SECRET LIVES 1

The story is about The Aloas, a polygamous family in Ibadan. Baba Segi, the head of the family, is rich but illiterate (and quite flatulent). Iya Segi, Iya Femi, Iya Tope and Bolanle are his four wives. The three wives have given Baba Segis seven children and to him, this is an accomplishment that he openly brags about. The ability to have many children is a validation of his manhood. His fourth wife, Bolanle is the only graduate in Baba Segi’s semi-illiterate family. She is also the only wife does not yet have a child, a fact that bothers Baba Segi. Bolanle is hated by the other wives due to the fact that she is different. They also detest the fact that Baba Segi is proud of his ‘graduate’ wife and treats her like a trophy. This odium leads them to take drastic measures to try and get her out of their home.

 

“Men are so simple. They will believe anything.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin is full of humor. The language used is simple but quite raw (uncensored). Although, the story is told by multi-narrators, it is easy to follow the witty narration. The story has everything from jealously, lust, anger and love. Its characters are also quite memorable. All this make it a very fascinating read.

“The choices we have to make in this world are hard and bitter. Sometimes we have no choices at all.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The big twist in the story is revealed during the quest to solve the mystery behind Bolanle’s bareness. I must admit, the twist was really good. I never saw it coming. It’s the kind of twist that will make you pause to relish in just how good the story before you continue reading.

SECRET LIVES 3
I recommend this book to every looking for a good, simple book with an easy flow. All fans of African Literature should also read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.

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13 comments on “Book Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

  1. Lekeisha The Booknerd
    March 14, 2016

    I think this book would make me mad. I understand that it’s permitted in their culture, but I still wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around it all. Great review!

    • Diana
      March 14, 2016

      Thanks Lekeisha. Glad you liked the review.

      Yes polygamous is still permitted in most parts of Africa. The setting is Nigeria though even in Kenya it is there although not as much as it used to be in the olden days.It is also unusual for educated women to end up in such marriages which I guess adds the twist to this story where one of the wives is a University graduate.

      I understand what you mean though, this book may not be for everyone.Probably more for readers of African Literature.

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  3. Brown Books and Green Tea
    March 15, 2016

    This is officially being added to my TBR. Immediately.

    • Diana
      March 15, 2016

      I hope you will enjoy the book as much as I did.Lola is brilliant 🙂

  4. Nkirote Mworia
    March 18, 2016

    I like.Where can I get it?

    • Diana
      March 18, 2016

      Hi Maureen, I bought mine at TBC. I have seen a number of people also got theirs from Inama Bookshops. Let me message you about it.

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