The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives Book Review— By OluwaTobi Elegbeleye

First, we all should give Lola Shoneyin a round of applause for doing an exceptional job of narrating this story. There was not a time when I felt distant or removed from the story. She carried me along so well; I felt the joy, pain, sarcasm, hurt, anger along with the characters.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives left a deep impression on my heart. I loved the chapter titles, I found it ingenious and captivating. It got me excited about what each chapter had to reveal. Lola Shoneyin’s narrating prowess is remarkable. The stories flowed into one another perfectly. How she managed to switch between the past and present without getting me confused or bored is praiseworthy.

Bolanle is definitely my favourite character, her strength and tenacity, despite her hurtful past and present is beautiful and inspiring. Her story captures the lives of women who are victims of rape; poor self esteem, a faulty conception of what love is and should be and a desire to escape from reality. This is worsened when the victim lacks the support and love that a family should give. Imagine having to carry this burden for that long! I am glad she was finally able to come to terms with her past. Bolanle’s story fills me with hope, and with the way the story ended, I’m hopeful about her future — love and career wise.

Baba Segi! My second favorite character. Why I like him is what I’m not sure of. Perhaps because beneath all that crass exterior laid a sweet, simple heart. It is however sad that he was so gullible. Men should learn from him not to take more than they can chew.

With this work of hers, Lola Shoneyin painted very concisely, the lives of polygamous families; the constant fights and bickering displayed by the wives borne out of fear and a need to protect one’s territory; the resultant lack of peace experienced by the man of the house.

Perhaps, the stories of the characters in this book will cause many to reconsider the decision to go into polygamy.

The Secret lives of Baba Segi’s Wives had several emotional moments for me, the most memorable ones being the time Bolanle revealed that she had had an abortion before the doctor and Baba Segi; Iya Femi’s former life as a slave; Bolanle’s rape experience; Segi’s confrontation with her mother in the bathroom, and her death; also when Baba Segi received the news of his inability to father a child. I laughed and cried and it felt like I was watching the story in 3D.

Thank you Lola Shoneyin for such an inspiring work.


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