Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives-Lola Shoneyin

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
Lola Shoneyin
Morrow, Jun 29 2010, $23.99
ISBN: 9780061946370

In Nigeria in 1984, Ishola “Baba Segi” Alao married his first wife Iya Segi and had two children with her. Five years after that he wedded number two Iya Tope and sired three kids with her. In 1994 Iya Femi became spouse number three and two more offspring. Finally as is his marital trend he married Bolanle in 1999, but no progeny has come from that union.

The patriarch’s superego is affirmed by having the four wives including his last possessing a university degree and seven children from his unions. Baba is concerned that Bolanle has provided him with no offspring. Segi will do anything to maintain her positions as first wife as that means more money, her personal god. Tope is fearful of doing anything that would alienate the household. Femi has deep passion for life and a thirst for vengeance; both of which novitiate her. Finally Baba’s only chosen one Bolanle joined the household to hide, but having a diploma amidst a sea of people who cannot read makes her stand out. The other wives are angrily jealous of her standing as the proud patriarch pays attention to her in the hope he will sire his next childon her.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is an intelligent profound look at polygamy through mostly the wives and somewhat Baba who is a monarch with eleven subjects. Rotating viewpoint, the women loathe each other and react different towards one another. Segi is nastily superior; Tope is a reticent abuse victim; Femi is deceitful; and Bolanle is stoically detached. Readers will understand why each woman agreed to marry Baba and why the patriarch believes multiple wives and children symbolize his wealth. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is an insightful family drama.

Harriet Klausner

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