“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?” Aunty Ifeka said. “Your life belongs to you and you alone.” – Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I have a huge stack of books to read. Some of those books I’ve been waiting FOREVER to read, and they finally came out, and I got my hands on them, but then I randomly picked up The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, and I forgot about all those new, most anticipated books.
Wowzers friends. This was good. I don’t know if I expected to like it as much as I did, but I’m glad I put my hands on it, opened it up and read the first page, because I’m afraid it would have fallen into the pit of To-Read books on my shelf aka I will never read.
Confession: I hated Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, and I had to read it like one million times in school. I thought Okonkwo was an a- hole. Yeah, I did, and maybe it’s because I didn’t UNDERSTAND. Maybe. BUT. Lola Shoneyin, another Nigerian goddess author (Idk what’s up but I absolutely adore anything written by women from Nigeria) seems to be the answer to my hatred of Achebe’s book. In her book men are silly, and the women are powerful. See where I’m going with this. Okonkwo was a misogynist, and we can say “HE WAS A PRODUCT OF HIS TIME”, BUT what kind of lame ass excuse is that, and by making that argument you’re degrading women. FACT.
The main character of this story is Bolanle, the fourth wife of Baba Segi. Bolanle is hated by the other wives, and it isn’t just because she’s new… No, see, these ladies have a deep dark secret, and Bolanle is about to disrupt the game they’ve got going on.
Bolonle can’t get pregnant, and Baba Segi’s upset-
“Doctor! Doctor! I need something to help me. It is my wife’s womb-“he panted.”
Oh Baba Segi, you dolt. Lola Shoneyin did not shy away from making fun of Baba Segi, almost to the point where you felt sorry for him. Almost.
I read an article recently in The New Yorker about Nigerian immigrants and the horrible things girls have to go through to get out of Nigeria. Also, Nigeria is home to the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Also Nigeria is the birthplace of feminist icon We Should All Be Feminists. So Nigeria seems to me to be a battleground for extreme misogyny meeting feminist ideals.
Baba Segi was a flatulating embarrassment, but his wives: they were fierce, they were evil, they were trying to survive, and what better way to survive in a male- dominated environment than to marry a dolt.
Iya Segi is wife number one and she is an entrepreneur. In fact, Baba Segi marries her for the money she has earned. Iya Tope is an innocent. Probably the most innocent of the bunch, but she too possesses an inner world far beyond what her husband could ever dream. Iya Femi, a product of abuse and hardship, is malicious. Iya Segi and Iya Femi were responsible for most of Bolanle’s suffering in the house.
This is not a very big spoiler: Bolonale was raped at fifteen and had to have a secret abortion. Before her rape, she was one of the highest students at her school. Her mother had poured all her hopes and dreams on her success, but after being raped, Bolanle felt unclean, and unworthy, which landed her in a polygamist marriage, where she hoped to hide from the world. In the end it is Bolanle, in which all our hopes are gathered. Bolanle, and all the women who decide to live their own lives without shame. That is our hope.
This was SUCH A GOOD BOOK!