In the latest novel by Lola Shoneyin takes us into the Nigerian household run by Baba Segi and his wives.
“When Baba Segi awoke with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row. He knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife’s childlessness”– The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
The moment I read that line. I could already gauge the type of character our dear Baba Segi was going to be. Coming from an African background I immediately felt bad for the fourth wife without even being introduced to her character.
I had discovered this book on a thread of African authors on twitter. I had heard of the theatre adaptation however I wanted to have read the book before seeing it live in action.
The story introduces us to Bolane who is the fourth wife who he speaks of in the above quote. To the disappointment of her mother Bolane opts into marrying into a polygamous family. Coming from an African background I can only imagine how my mum would react if I told her that I am marrying a man who already has many wives but as the story progresses we come to understand the reasoning behind Bolane’s decision.
I loved this book from page one. I do enjoy reading books from white authors however the reality is I cannot connect or resonate with many of the characters and the lives they live especially with the differences in the white and black experiences so books such as Baba segi and My sister the serial killer (Which i reviewed on here a few months back) will always hold a special place in my heart.
There are serious topics that are covered in this story from life in a polygamous household, sexual assault and the choices that African women across will the world have to face.
I liked how we were able to gain some background on all these women and the paths that they took that led them into Baba Segi’s home. Bolane’s story was one that had definitely resonated with me. The long-lasting impact of sexual abuse and how can it can turn someone into a shadow of themselves which can often force them into living a life that allows them to forget about what has happened to them.
“I chose this family to regain my life, to heal in anonymity,”– Bolane, Baba Segi’s Wives.
If you are currently bored in lockdown and are tired of scrolling through the endless stream of twitter, I highly recommend picking this book up as it takes you on a journey that will have you gripped till the very last page