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Lola Shoneyin Reveals The Inspiration Behind “The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives”

By Chidirim Ndeche 26 November 2017   |   6:00 am

In her interview with Guardian Life magazine, award-winning author and organiser of Ake Books and Art Festival Lola Shoneyin discussed the inspiration behind her debut novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.

According to Shoneyin, the major inspiration behind her critically acclaimed novel was a story she heard when she was only 14 years old.

Her brother’s girlfriend had told her about a story which, among other things, eventually encouraged her to tell a story. She said:

“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.”

Well, if you’ve read the book, you have a strong idea of what they discovered.

Shoneyin also reflected her personal experiences are 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.”

Writing this novel was very important to her, especially “the humanity and how a family deals with really serious, life-shattering challenges.”


The inspiration behind her book is just a snippet of all the interesting things she discussed in her interview with Guardian Life. You can read the rest of it in today’s edition of the magazine. (Tip: It’s inside the Guardian Newspaper.)

In case you missed the behind-the-scenes video of our cover subject for today, you can watch it below.

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