When people looking to start reading African Literature ask us for recommendations we are always quick to scream “THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI’S WIVES”. Amarachi Agwu, a literary enthusiast, once described it as a candid approach to Infidelity.
Now Imagine how delighted we were when we found out that Lola Shoneyin, author of Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s wives graced the cover of GUARDIAN LIFE NIGERIA!!!
Lola covered quite a number of topics – from feminism to her debut book to the Ake Festival – the biggest literary festival in Nigeria.
Speaking on her critically acclaimed novel, she says that the main inspiration was a story told to her by her brother’s girlfriend when she was 14 years old.
“She told me about this particular situation, where a man had dragged his youngest wife – he was an Igbo man and he had three wives – to the hospital, complaining that she was barren and of course, as part of the medical investigation he had to undergo a series of tests as did his wives and what they found out devastated the whole family.”
Her personal experiences are also reflected in the book.
“On the other hand, both my grandfathers were polygamous, so I always thought that it was very interesting how that played out in the lives of my parents, especially my mother, whose mother was the first wife and therefore just really unhappy about the notion of polygamy. I just wanted to write that story and look at how our perceptions are changing as Nigerians, as Africans. How we view polygamy, for instance, vis-à-vis culture, modernity, that’s it.”
The most important thing about writing the novel for her was, “the humanity, how a family deals with really serious, life-shattering challenges.”
Speaking of being a feminist in Nigeria, Shoneyin reveals, that she sees herself…
“as a feminist (even) before it became fashionable in Nigeria.” She believes that feminism in the country is about two things – opportunity and choice.
“Opportunities that are available to men, have to be available to women. I feel we do a great disservice as a country by not letting women flourish, by not giving them the opportunity to do what they want to do; I think we suffer, we are less productive, we are less powerful or empowered economically. It’s about choice as well; when you’re an adult, it’s about ‘what do I really want to do?’ not ‘what does society want me to do?’ not ‘what do my parents want me to do?’ and not ‘what does my husband want me to do?’”
She goes on to say,
“Being able to choose is very important; being able to be economically empowered is very important and independent; being able to say, ‘I want to be a politician’ and be able to go for it and not need to compromise yourself in any way, is very important.”
Towards the end of the interview, Shoneyin reveals her true essence –
…being creative is not a choice. It is a must. It is what makes tick. “There are lots of inspiring things coming up and that’s how I like to live my life. I need to be inspired on a daily basis, boredom is unhealthy for me…
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, was Longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize, won the 2011 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award and won two Association of Nigerian Authors Awards.
Read more Here – GUARDIAN LIFE NIGERIA