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

babasegiswivesThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was recommended by a dear friend. This book reads so simply but yet it’s so entertaining and engaging. I enjoyed every minute of reading this book and was so afraid to finish it. So much so that I dragged out my reading time. The story is set in Ibadan, Nigeria. The city where I was raised. Even as the author describes the streets and places, I can recall them so vividly. It brought back nostalgic memories.

The story is about Baba Segi and his relationship with his wives. Baba Segi is wealthy but illiterate. He is proud of his wealth and his family size. But a secret lies within his family which he is oblivious to. Only when he takes a new wife, Bolanle, are the secrets slowly unraveled.

The cast of characters

Ishola Alao – Baba Segi: Illiterate Yoruba Patriarch. He came from humble beginnings and worked his way into being wealthy. He is proud of his wealth and family.

Iya Segi: Iya means mother in Yoruba, so this can be translated as Mother of Segi. As the first wife, her job is to oversee all the dealings of the family and younger wives. She has two children, Segi and Akin

Iya Tope : Second wife, shy and timid

Iya Femi: She is the schemer in the household

Bolanle: The youngest wife. She joins the family and rocks the boat

Some themes touched on in this book include polygamy, friendships and infertility. The cultural nuances of the Yoruba tribe are very much in play. I can almost picture all the characters as though I know them personally. I enjoyed this book and would love to see this made into a stage play. It would be hilarious.

I loved this book and if you know of any Nigerian books with such humor and wit, please let me know in the comments below.Here is a link to the first chapter, you’ll be hooked after reading it. Here is an accompanying reading guide for book clubs.

About the Author: Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet and author. Born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria the setting for this book. In this article she discusses polygamy and it’s influence on children and families.

Link to book:
Publishing Date:  1st edition (June 29, 2010)

Hardcover: 288 pages

Here is a video of Lola Shoneyin discussing her book.

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