Favourite Character: Segi
Book title: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
Author: Lola Shoneyin
There is no doubt; ‘the secret lives of Papa Segi’s wives’ is one of the most talked about novels in Nigeria now. Everybody I’ve met likes the book, except Adamu; a man I met in a taxi who thought the book was ‘sentimental and pure rubbish’. Well I guess he had a reason to say what he said, he was sitting beside his fourth wife.
The book is about the bizarre capabilities of polygamy: how a man makes a hat-trick of illiterate wives and attempts to top it up by marrying a graduate belle. The action brings tension and the story cuts straight across the lives of the wives and the man who married them.
It’s a pity that very few have taken the time to really study the character whose name is part of the title of the book itself. Segi is a beautiful girl; she is the first child of the first wife of Baba Segi. She loves her mother a lot and she has a strong protective instinct. Segi is a very subtle character in the book and it takes a keen eye to notice her in the crazy labyrinthine storyline, but she is there! She is like a ghost in the story who eventually comes to life ironically as a result of her death.
Getting to know Segi increases my respect for Lola Shoneyin as a respecter of detail, if her book were to be a pointillism painting; Segi could have been described as a secret dot on the canvas that brings the whole painting to life.
Now Segi has thought me a handful of things: the pain of a burgeoning love cut short, the battle with a fear to love and the catastrophe of loss. My favorite character eventually dies in the story, but she has managed to live on in my head. Sometimes I see her fade in and out the walls of my room whenever I think of Lola’s book. Segi is unforgettable.