Happy Sunday guys. Hope you all have a productive day. Today I’m reviewing a book by Lola Shoneyin called ‘The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives.’
Title: The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives.
Author: Lola Shoneyin
Pages: 256 pp.
Summary: A stirring tale of men and women, mothers and children, servitude and independence, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives illuminates the common threads that connect the experiences of all women: the hardships they bear, their struggle to define themselves, and their fierce desire to protect those they love.
The book is seen through the eyes of Bolanle mostly. Because each chapter is point of view from a different character. One of the main characters Baba Segi is sad because his fourth wife Bolanle is unable to conceive. What annoys me is the fact that this man has made her life a living hell- always complaining, degrading her and making her feel bad. Like its all her fault. I mean kilo de? Also, out of his three wives, only one – Iya Tope is nice to Bolanle. The other two – Iya Segi and Iya Femi are too proud and belittle Bolanle. By the way, Iya means mother. In the Yoruba custom, it is common to hear a parents called Iya for females and Baba for males literally meaning Mother of and Father of, after a first child has been born.
The book showcases some very prominent situation we find ourselves in. When a girl child is born, she is looked down upon. Like she is nothing and second compared to a male child. That is a problem that is very common, although awareness is being made to stop it. Another critical problem is barrenness. the book, it can be seen that Iya Tope has only female children, which makes her feel insecure, and Bolanle who is barren and criticised every time.
At a glance, the Baba Segi household is seen as a perfect family. But there is more than meets the eye. This was where I became more intrigued to read the book. Baba Segi’s true character came into light and I understood that he isn’t really a bad person only being pushed by the society. He is a very generous, nice and caring to an extent. He loves his family a lot. I love how the children are close to each other as a family.
Another twist in the book occurs, when we see each of the wives’ POV. Each of them has their own secrets, and we see the similarities between them. Iya Tope, Iya Femi and Iya Segi all had various boyfriends. For me, Iya Femi had the most painful past – she struggled so hard after her parents died and her uncle took all the properties claiming she is just a ‘female’ so she cannot be allowed to have properties in her name.
Iya Femi found a job in a wealthy household and was humiliated so much. From beatings to sleeping on a bare kitchen floor, her life was so sad back then.
After a reminiscence of all the wives’, Bolanle goes to the doctor with Baba Segi. That was the cause of a bombshell. Bolanle is proven to have aborted once, which is the cause of her not being able to get pregnant. All the four wives secret are brought out to the public. All Baba Segi’s children are not actually his own. The truth of the matter is that Baba Segi cannot have children. Iya Segi, his first wife understood that from the beginning, and decided to take action into her own hands. Seeing how desperate her husband is, his family, and how the society would look at her made her find an alternative. She began having an affair with the driver. When the other wives came, she told them of her secret and they all continued with the plan. Iya Femi continued having an affair with the son of the lady she worked for and Iya Tope had an affair with a market seller.
At the climax of the book, the truth was revealed and the question that arose was, will Baba Segi accept the children? Or would he send them out of his house. He confided in a teacher called Teacher, who was known to give advice to people. Teacher adviced him to send them out. When he thought over it, he decided against doing that. If he did that, his secret of being barren would be out.
Thank you very much for reading this review. Hope you enjoyed it. ❤❤❤
Nnedimma Nkemdili “Nnedi” Okorafor is a Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults. She is best known for her novels Binti, Who Fears Death, Zahrah the Windseeker, Akata Witch, and Lagoon. Other than fiction, she has also written for comics and film.
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