The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives pdf Book Overview
The secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin is a perceptive, entertaining, and eye-opening novel of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. The struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union come to life in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives—Big Love and The 19th Wife set against a contemporary African background.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives Book Summary
An educated wife means trouble.
The three wives of Baba Segi are managing their seven children just fine when he takes it into his head to marry again. To make matters worse, his fourth wife is a graduate from the university, an uppity young woman who knows too much for her own good. To make matters even worse yet, in two years she has not produced a child. Baba Segi is a plump, flatulent, 42-year-old Nigerian polygamist, whose bladder control is not particularly good. Calm, intelligent, patient Bolanle has entered a household where she is not wanted, where the other wives will try anything to drive her out. And to everyone’s amazement, Bolanle peacefully continues loving the other wives and their children, treating everyone in the household kindly, convinced that her love will win them over. 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. Meet 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.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives Author – Lola Shoneyin
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. www.akefestial.org
Information About the Book The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives(Amazon)
- Publisher : William Morrow; 1st edition (June 29, 2010)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0061946370
- ISBN-13 : 978-0061946370
- Item Weight : 0.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.97 x 7.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #491 in African Literature (Books)
- #4,504 in Cultural Heritage Fiction
- #23,815 in Family Life Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,006 ratings
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives pdf Characters
Mr. Alao aka Baba segi
The rich man who signifies the authority of the house and is seen to exert so much authority. However, he is only an image of authority. He seems to always be found acting unknowingly. Acting the rich man, and also acting the wives’ scheme. Allegorically, in a traditional society, he represents man! Man who is greater than woman. The unequal imbalance of the society. The author deployed the use of irony at the end to let us see that he was only a man who had played perfectly into the scheme of his wife(wives) until Bolanle came. He was still the “man” after the unraveling of the mystery as he carried out his judgment on each wife like a judge reading the sentence of an accused person.
The real art woman in the world of Baba Segi. She is like the hidden play master who understands her wit. Like a game of chess, she makes the decision, yet hidden, making Baba Segi to appear as the master. Well, Baba Segi is the master. She is the most senior wife. Her childhood also shed much light into her hidden plans and why she must do what she has to do. Baba Segi was her goldmine. Her hard earned money and she must do all to protect her money! She was an industrious woman but extremely wise. However, her wisdom although saved the wives at the end to remain in Baba Segi’s house but didn’t stop the truth from unraveling. She showed the wives how to remain in Baba Segi’s house except Bolanle. Allegorically she depicts how things can influence or dictate our decision.
The timid woman. Baba Segi’s second wife. The author’s choice of word selectively coined makes us see an innocent childlike heart in an adult. We see beauty in her imperfections. We also see the injustice of the society. She was married off by her father as a COMPENSATION of a poor turn out of farm produce to a rich man.
I think a background into her childhood makes us see or somewhat understand her actions.She wanted to survive! She needed to survive, and like a scavenger, knew the importance of survival! She also reveals the hypocrisy of religion. She never understood her religion and only uses it as a tool of vengeance. If she ever understood love, it must have died with her parent’s death.
The mystery girl. The puzzle that fits all yet missing. A girl who tries to run away from life’s questions yet finds herself in the middle of the greatest puzzle without knowing. She is the answer to the unasked question. We see the beauty of education over illiteracy. We see the beauty of character over selfishness; or virtues over vices. We see the need of parents understanding the emotional needs of their children. Parents befriending their children and not be terrors in the name of discipline. She won at last! She was able to find “herself” in Baba Segi’s household and also help unravel the secret in Baba Segi’s household.
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Editorial reviews and praise for the book
From Publishers Weekly
Blind acceptance splinters a polygamous marriage in Shoneyin’s gripping debut set in modern-day Nigeria. Bolanle Alao, the newest and youngest of Baba Segi’s wives, threatens to upset the balance of power–she is educated and beautiful, though naïve about the relationship dynamics among the other three wives in the house. Raped at 15, Bolanle considers herself disgraced and unwanted until Baba Segi, an overweight, malodorous businessman welcomes her into his family, no questions asked, until it seems she cannot conceive. Like the other wives, she feels she has been saved by Baba Segi, who accepts all of them politely, but beyond brief mentions of his sexual encounters and visits to the toilet, Baba Segi is a peripheral character. When greedy Iya Segi and Iya Femi plot to run young, sweet Bolanle out of the family, the result is disaster. It is Bolanle’s unexpected submissiveness that leads her and her husband to uncover a secret that forces him to assert his control over the family. Shoneyin masterfully disentangles four distinct stories, only to subtly expose what is common among them.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Set in contemporary Nigeria, poet Shoneyin’s first novel draws us into the complex family dynamics of Baba Segi, his seven children, and his four wives: the controlling Iya Segi, meek and submissive Iya Tope, vindictive Iya Femi, and Bolanle, his university-educated wife. Bolanle’s apparent inability to conceive a child sets off a series of events and revelations that significantly impact every member of the household.Verdict Using alternating narration, Shoneyin quickly gains the readers interest in this warts-and-all depiction of a culture that will be unfamiliar to many. Each wife finds her own way to assert her power and desire within the confines of a patriarchal system; in some cases, with disastrous consequences. Book clubs and readers in general interested in exploring dynamic characters and events, and who can tolerate some sex and violence, will find this a strong choice”. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/10.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis-Library Journal
Customers reviews of the secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives by Lola Shoneyin on Barnes and noble
5 out of 5 stars.
· 2 years ago
This Is A Great Book. It’s Not A Fast Read, And Sometimes You Will ….
This is a great book. It’s not a fast read, and sometimes you will have to go back and re-read areas, to make sure you are clear on what’s happening – as there are many wives and characters to follow. But this is not what you think it is. It is not a mere story about jealousy among wives, as it goes much deeper than this. At first, I could not understand what was driving the protagonist, but as you read, her story and humanity become more apparent. This is Nigerian literature, but I suspect many will see some reflection of themselves as you reflect on what the characters are facing and how they choose to deal with it. There’s real love stories, jealousy, hate, infertility, family conflict, and much more.
5 out of 5 stars.
· 8 years ago
Different And Interesting! Recommended!
This is an interesting story. Set in Africa, this story of four wives of one wealthy man is funny, sad, and eerie! This is a fast read because it is well written and just unusual. Well worth your time and money. This could be a good movie. Another good book on the Nook is “The Partisan” by William Jarvis. Both books deserve A++++++
4 out of 5 stars.
·11 years ago
Sometimes Sad, Sometimes Funny Book
I got this book for free.
“The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives” by Lola Shoneyin is a fictional story set in modern day Nigeria and centers around the house of a polygamist. The novel examines the complex relationships between the wives, their children and a new wife who is brought into the house.
Bolanle Alao is the young beautiful wife of Bab Segi; she is educated, naive and. his fourth wife. Upsetting the delicate balance of power in the dynamic relationship, Bloanle is noticing that she is being pushed out by the wives, while at the same time being pushed by her husband to have a child. Polygamy was never the first choice for any of the wives, and Bolanle is no different. However, circumstances have a way to make your decision for you.
When Baba Segi’s two greedy wives devise a Machiavellian plot to make sure Bolanle is out of the way, a disastrous results awaits them which will not only upset the balance of power, but might destroy the whole family. In this polygamists household secrets are the norm, each woman guards her secret against all others in the household, however shares them with the reader through out the story.
“The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives” is a sometimes sad, sometimes funny book. The novel examines the compound relationships of a polygamous family, the jealousies, infighting, self deception and conniving.
I know very little about Nigeria; however Ms. Shoney made the country very familiar, as well as the people, so I felt at ease reading the book. Since the story is told by multiple people the reader is privy to their emotions, ambitions and world view which makes the characters fully developed and dimensional in a surprisingly short amount of pages. Weaving through each separate narrative, the reader learns of the events which brought this family together as well as an eye for the present.
As the story unfolds, we are drawn into the world of Baba Segi and his family. Lola Shoeyin’s writing is clear and evokes emotions as well as believable reactions from the characters. Even though the book takes place in Nigeria, it does have universal theme of actions and reactions within a close knit fiefdom of one man’s home.
Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2017
My book club read this as our book for Nigeria as we “read our way around the world.” We loved it. It’s written by a Nigerian author and set in modern-day, making the story extremely relevant. The characters are humorous (I was laughing out loud in some parts!), the writing is lively, and the message is much, much deeper than I expected. A thrilling book, and the perfect introduction to Nigeria. We were looking up interviews and articles with the author after we finished the book. I bought myself a copy after reading the library’s, simply because I enjoyed it so much.
Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2020
I was attracted to the book cover with the gorgeous silhouette of this african like princess in a stunning head wrap. Beautiful cover! I had trouble following the story and the characters until I got to page 103. Written by an African-born (Nigerian) poet Lola Shoneyin in this thought-provoking debut novel that is centered around Bolanle who enters into a polygamous world in which her very presence unlocks a secret that the other wives have long guarded.
There was humor, shocking moments and sadness in the novel that kept me pushing through. The Nigerian customs, culture, and traditions that I had to jump over due to the lack of knowledge, since never having traveled to the west coast of Africa. A lot of this was explained at the end in an interview with the author which was taken from her intimate life. How the four women became wives to Baba Segi was the major point of interest to me for this novel.
Lola Shoneyin has a beautiful story written in prose which amplified her verse in poetry writing. A difficult read, however the totality of this novel was worth the read.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning and Magical Piece of Fiction
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2015
This is an absolutely fantastic piece of modern African fiction. The writing is magical and full of juicy proverbs that I will be sure to sprinkle into my everyday discourse. The topical matter, at least to me, seems to be more about masculinity than polygamy. Many of the reviewers focus on the obvious polygamy narrative, but I read the book as more of a deconstruction of masculine identities in contemporary Africa, the subjugation of women and their dreams, and the desire for image over reality. The book is written from the perspectives of four wives living in one household, as well as the husband and his deceitful driver. You fly through this book like a bird and really enjoy the colorful landscapes. Nigeria is such a powerhouse of literature, and this is another gem.
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