The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
For a polygamist like Baba Segi, his collection of wives and a gaggle of children are the symbol of prosperity, success and validation of his manhood. Everything runs reasonably smoothly in the patriarchal home, until wife number four intrudes on this family romance. Bolanle, a graduate amongst the semi-literate wives, is hated from the start. Baba Segi’s glee at bagging a graduate doesn’t help matters. Worse, Bolanle’s arrival threatens to do more than simply ruffle feathers. She’s unwittingly set to expose a secret that her co-wives intend to protect, at all costs.
Lola Shoneyin’s light and ironic touch exposes not only the rotten innards of Baba Segi’s polygamous household in this cleverly plotted story; it also shows how women not educated or semi-literate, women in contemporary Nigeria can be as restricted, controlled and damaged by men – be they fathers, husbands, uncles, rapists – as they’ve never been.
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Lola Shoneyin's work includes three books of poems: So All the Time I Was Sitting on an Egg (1997), Song of a Riverbird (2002) For the Love of Flight (2010) and two children's books: Mayowa and the Masquerades (2010) and Iyaji, the Housegirl (2014)
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011 and went on to win the PEN Oakland 2011 Josephine Miles Literary Award and the 2011 ANA/Ken Saro-Wiwa Prose Prize. Her children's book, Mayowa and the Masquerades won the 2011 Atiku Abubakar Prize for Children's literature.
Shoneyin is the director of Ake Arts & Book Festival which takes place every November in Abeokuta, Nigeria. She lives in Nigeria.