The Secret of Baba Segi's Wives | Review

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Lola Shoneyin
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

An amazing rollercoaster of emotions … Shoneyin captivates her readers in this raw, unabashed tale of how four wives navigate and survive in a misogynistic world they were raised to believe was not their own.

The book centres on the Alao family, a polygamous household with four wives and seven children. The newest wife of Baba Segi is Bolanle, a young, beautiful graduate. Whilst she was his pride and joy when he first brought her home to his three wives, she soon becomes his deepest shame when her belly fails to swell with his seed. All the degrees in the world couldn’t help Bolanle as she faces this dilemma, while at the same time dealing with the immediate hatred and bitterness she receives from her fellow wives.

We’re taken on a warped, yet fantastic journey, which flips between humour and tragedy, and we experience the realities of the battle between aged, ritualistic values and modernity. Whilst the book touches on some key issues in Nigerian culture such as the role played by women in the home, there is also a feminist twist as we start to see who really rules the roost in the Alao household.

As the book comes to an end you won’t want to leave the characters behind, regardless of the opinions you formed of them previously. And you will form some strong opinions!

Shoneyin’s writing is effortless and even though it touches on some key issues, it does so in an incredibly fun and engaging way. You really won’t want to put it down.


- Dami Johnson

Only a foolish woman leans heavily on a man's promises
— Lola Shoneyin
The ReadDonya Davis