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A Witty Account of the Inner Dynamics of a Polygamous Marriage
on 11 April 2010
Before Reading The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, I had never read any literary work by Lola Shoneyin. Having read it however, I will definitely be on the look out for any of her future offerings.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives traces the lives of five people (Ishola Alao A.K.A. Baba Segi and his four wives: Iya Segi, Iya Tope, Iya Femi and the newest wife, Bolanle). The book lets the reader into the vicissitudes in the lives of these women which sees them pitching their tents in matrimony with Ishola; from the latent feelings of homosexuality and the worship of money that the fat Iya Segi harboured, to the physical abuse, sufferings and desires for revenge that blighted the existence of Iya Femi and the almost cuckoo Iya Tope. And to top all these is the almost mysterious Bolanle who has sought refuge in this polygamous household despite the fact that she sticks out like a sore thumb being the only educated spouse in the midst of an illiterate husband and three illiterate co-wives.
Ishola, a male chauvinist, is supremely proud of his virility and his seven children. He is puffed up with the achievement of having bagged a woman who has a university degree and does not for a moment stop to think if there is a reason she has chosen him as a husband instead of a man who is as educated as she is. Of all his wives, she is the one woman that he has chosen by himself to be his wife (the other three wives having been thrust upon him by one circumstance or the other).
Bolanle's continued barrenness gives Ishola more than a little cause for concern and the search for a cure unleashes gob smacking revelations in his life. In the midst of this is the jealousy that rages amongst the older wives at the attention Ishola pays Bolanle and the inferiority complex they feel towards her on account of their being unlettered. Despite the ill feelings borne towards her by her co-wives and their maltreatment of her, Bolanle bears it all with quiet stoicism and acts remarkably with gallantry and grace.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is a witty story about polygamy which has diabolical plots, murder, jealousy & secrets; and is told with compassion and understanding by the author. As a reader, it forces one to think that there just might be more than meets the eye when one sees women cleave themselves to a man irrespective of the fact that he is already joined in matrimony to another.
It was an enjoyable read for me and I recommend that you read it yourself.