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

thesecretlivesofbabasegiswivesThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives, as the title implies, is the story of Baba Segi’s four wives. Baba Segi is a wealthy businessman from Nigeria. He strongly believes that the number of wives and children (sons most specially) a man has is the measure of real manhood. You’d laugh at how obsessed Baba Segi was in planting his seeds to his wives. Ha!

Baba Segi’s wives all live with shocking secrets. I will not spoil them for you, of course, but let me introduce the four wives. The first wife is Iya Segi. Being the first wife, she is the queen. She loves money and that makes her an accomplished businesswoman. The second wife is Iya Tope. She’s quiet and dismissive, she doesn’t mind Iya Segi calling the shots at home. She’s just happy taking care of her daughters. Iya Femi is the third wife and though I don’t like her, I find her character very interesting. She loves plotting revenge on people, she enjoys it and she’s happy when people are miserable. Then comes Bolanle, the fourth wife, the only educated wife of Baba Segi. The youngest and somehow Baba Segi’s favorite until it turns out that she’s barren. Baba Segi turned against her until the secrets started to come out. It wasn’t really surprising anymore if you’ve focused on the wives’ stories but I could imagine how each revelation was so shocking and painful for Baba Segi.

This book gives us a good view of life in Nigeria specially for women. Women who may be different from many of us and the life we’re living but they are also humans who have wishes and dreams, big and small. It’s saddening to read about the polygamous kind of marriage that exists there and the role of women as wives most specially their “obligation” to conceive a male heir. And if you can’t, you’re good for nothing.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is a wonderful book. There’s a roller-coaster of emotions while I was reading it. It’s beautifully-written and the characters were well-drawn. Lola Shoneyin did a good job in engaging and captivating the readers.

Quotable Quotes:

“The choices we have to make in this world are hard are bitter. Sometimes we have no choices at all.”

“Men are nothing. They are fools. The penis between their legs is all they are useful for. And even then, if not that women needed their seed for children, it would be better to sit on a finger of green plantain. Listen to my words. Only a foolish woman leans heavily on a man’s promises.”

“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.”

“Don’t think I can’t see the challenges ahead of me. People will say I am a secondhand woman. Men will hurt and ridicule me but I won’t let them hold me back. I will remain in the land of the living. I am back now and the world is spread before me like an egg cracked open.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

Quote of the Week

But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.

~Haruki Murakami