In a fictive world sorted by Lola Soneyin, a carefully plotted story reveals the innards of a polygamous family, laced with rotten carnages and adulterous secrecy. In a cleverly but humorous plot, the story assumes a protagonist; Baba Segi and his four wives with numerous children. It was for him the mark of wealth and virility as a man’s achievement is mirrored here by the number of women he subdues in bed and the collection of children that follows as an emblem of faith and the status of dignity.
Through a creatively styled narrative of an admixture of the first-person and third-person narrative techniques, the reader is introduced to the Alao family where Baba Segi sits with his four wives. Iya Segi being the first them, rules over the others and she held their respect to her chest, Iya Femi, Iya Tope and Bolanle are the trio.
Baba Segi opted for a fourth wife the day he saw Bolanle, a university graduate who became his fourth wife through concerted effort and by the counsel of his friend, Teacher who dishes out advice at the bar where Baba Segi cools off after work. He got Bolanle.
Bolanle’s entrance into Baba Segi’s house stirred up strife as the other wives, except Iya Tope, became very envious of the young girl who possessed a university degree that they do not have. They united at every bend to frustrate Bolanle but her patience in the home and her willingness to give Baba Segi a child made the opposing wives more furious and deceptive. They had passed a judgment of perceiving insubordination against Bolanle before her arrival. Like is common with human habitation with people of common interest, they detested her presence and were driven to procure a portion so as to poison her. The meal was inadvertently taken by Segi; the daughter of the first wife whose hatred for Bolanle knew no bounds.
Bolanle’s efforts to cure her barrenness revealed a very dark secret in the lives of Baba Segi’s wives. A medical examination on Baba Segi brought a twist to the story and a dark tragedy root-out and crystallised evenly up the stratosphere of the family unity. Baba Segi had no sperm as medical diagnosis revealed. Through medical investigation Iya Segi was called first into the picture and she confessed in the hospital in the presence of the doctor and Baba Segi how she took to adultery to assuage the shame of being called a barren woman. She had an unending sexual escapade with Taju, Baba Segi’s driver. Taju took to his heels when the truth found its way out of the family’s secret den.
Baba Segi broke down into clinical depression as he threw up at every stage of the revelation. His life took a turn he never expected knowing that all his children were not his. Iya Segi had introduced the other wives into her adulterous trade and they bore their children with the help of a third party and surrender same to Baba Segi who before now had boasted of his virility and achievement as a man.
Bolanle, who had taken to look after Segi in her room was in grave surprise at the revelation and in an empty glance, she thought of her life. Segi died eventually but not before she heard the truth and the weight of tragedy left a grave silence in the household. You could hear the sound of silence and the invidious serenity of looming tragedy riffing through the aura of the families’ space. The wrong and conceit of a group of women took the story through series of injuries and hopelessness. The bitter reality of a man’s life is hung on the swollen flesh between a woman’s thigh, and the world has no case if she argues on this even if we choose to make a case for men. The forces that led these women to this heinous sin employed the instrumentality of men whose libidos could orchestrate tragedy at the speed of light.
Baba Segi’s resolution still rested on his ego. He still wants the world to see him as a man with many achievements hence he reluctantly condoned the sins of his wives and he dished out rules to remain relevant.
Lola’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is a story with a trajectory order on the realities of many polygamous marriages in Africa. The realness in her voice stimulates the readers’ inquisition, the aptness of language throws tension through the story and the unique technique gave individuality to the characters so that the reader could find his ways independently into the character’s world with ease. All angles to the story aligned to the central plot except that the choice of language of Baba Segi’s illiterate wives was not deployed to reflect their personality and this is vague. But the book still left a good taste on the memory of the readers.
Lola’s penmanship no doubt is incredible and her story will remain relevant in the literary circle and beyond.
Evans Ufeli is a lawyer and the author of acclaimed novel, ‘Without Face’. He is also an Alumni member of the Writers Bureau, Manchester, a highly sought-after conference speaker with a passion for the concept of change. He lives in Victoria Island, Lagos. You can visit his blog or contact him via Facebook or Twitter by clicking the icons below; send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08037712353