Book :: Lola Shoneyin :: The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives :: Nigeria

The secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives


The author :

Lola Shoneyin was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. She is a Nigerian poet and author who launched her debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, in the UK in May 2010.

Lola-ShoneyinShe has forged a reputation as an adventurous, humorous and outspoken poet (often classed in the feminist mould), having published three volumes of poetry. In April 2014 she was named on the Hay Festival’s Africa 39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define trends in African literature. Shoneyin won the Pen Award in America as well as the Ken Saro-Wiwa Award for prose in Nigeria. She was also longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in the UK forThe Secret of Baba Segi’s Wives in 2010. 

The book :

Baba Segi has three wives, seven children, and a mansion filled with riches. But now he has his eyes on Bolanle, a young university graduate wise to life’s misfortunes. When Bolanle responds to Baba Segi’s advances, she unwittingly uncovers a secret which threatens to rock his patriarchal household to the core.

9781846687495_3Meet Baba Segi . . .

A plump, vain, and prosperous middle-aged man of robust appetites, Baba Segi is the patriarch of a large household that includes a quartet of wives and seven children. But his desire to possess more just might be his undoing.

And his wives . . .

Iya Segi—the bride of Baba Segi’s youth, a powerful, vindictive woman who will stop at nothing to protect her favored position as ruler of her husband’s home.

Iya Tope—Baba Segi’s second wife, a shy, timid woman whose decency and lust for life are overshadowed by fear.

Iya Femi—the third wife, a scheming woman with crimson lips and expensive tastes who is determined to attain all that she desires, no matter what the cost.

Bolanle—Baba Segi’s fourth and youngest wife, an educated woman who inspires jealousy in her fellow wives . . . and who harbors a secret that will expose shocking truths about them all.


The idea of reading another book about polygamy was not really appealing to me, considering I already had my idea on the topic and did not really plan on changing it. I also had read extensively about the topic and thought I would just be reading another list of mean things women involved in such union could do to others. Well, I was amazed at how much I learned and how my understanding of the topic has changed! That only is a powerful reason to read Baba Segi’s wives story! 

The words a nicely put together, the story is powerful though often raw and sad but in the end it’s a beautiful manifesto to women and their power. I would not say it is a feminist novel but it could be categorized as such. You can never guess what is going to happen unless you dive deep into the complicated lives of the characters. You also get to learn much about the difficult lives of some (Nigerian) women, the cruelty of some others and the importance of status to many. It’s definitely a book to read! 

Apparently it has even been adapted on stage by Femi Elufowoju! That is definitely something I would love to watch!



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