Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lola Shoneyin in the Guardian

Here. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is out in May, published by Cassava Republic Press.


Abiola Sanusi,  2:03 pm  

Interesting but misses a crucial point. Development put simply is progress towards achieving some form of modernity. In Nigeria, there have been movements regarding development but not at the expense of dismantling some traditional practices that are outdated and harmful to social groups. Women in our society remain the property of their fathers and husbands. Mothers (wittingly or unwittingly), as custodians of culture continue to be accompliances in this practice.
In the past decade many women have attained unprecedented levels of financial independence but still display ambivalence attitudes towards polygamy (and adultery). Why? Lack of self-worth in a society where males are highly prized and valued. Ultimate goal is to be ‘Mrs Somebody’ or ‘Mrs Somebody the Second etc’ which flies in the face of economic freedom as a tool for female independence/empowerment. Young girls are being fed this rubbish instead of being encouraged to be independent (emotionally and financially) and not fall prey to waiting vultures (including family members)! Forget any mention of ‘female solidarity’- your best friend may end up being your sister wife! Societal attitudes (including laws) regarding women need to change before polygamy can be tackled. Argument now is there are more women than men in Nigeria therefore polygamy is a good thing – all those poor women, who will marry them?
Women may be ‘pawns’ when it comes to political/societal marriages but many smile silently and say ‘I am Mrs Somebody (2nd, 3rd etc)’. In Nigeria, a woman (with money) is nothing without a husband or children.

Angela,  11:54 am  

This article is a load of drivel - unthought through. I grew up in a nuclear family and many of the maddness she ascribes to polygamy were happening in my own family and others around me. I watch women becoming SICK and MAD on account of their husbands' infidelity and children becoming damaged as a result of this. Blaming polygamy as causing jealousy,craftiness and dysfunctionality is too reductive and simplistic. More women are probably having pyschological break-down as a result of monogamy than polygamy. This is an overly emotional argument and makes it easy to pick holes at the argument. It is one thing to be against polygamy, it is another to argue against it based on what applies to other forms of family/marriage arrangement. I am opposed to polygamy as much as I am to adultery - it is damaging to both women and children.

Lola Shoneyin 4:59 pm  

@Abiola Sanusi: Thanks for your measured response. I agree with you completely. It's frustrating sometimes when you have no control over what is eventually published. In the original, I addressed this extensively.

"Angela: I know! Because MUCH of the madness that I supposedly ascribe to polygamy was going on in your nuclear family, let's poo-poo monogamy and promote polygamy, shall we? It all makes sense now.

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