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17 on Lola Shoneyin, author of ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’


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“Live hard, read hard, write hard.”

Lola Shoneyin

[caption id="attachment_5699" align="aligncenter" width="466"]Source: wanawana.net Source: wanawana.net[/caption]   Early Life Titilola Atinuke Alexandrah Shoneyin was born in Ibadan, Oyo State (Nigeria), in 1974, to a family of eight, as the youngest of six children and the only girl. At the age of six, she was sent to the UK where she attended Cargilfield School, Edinburgh, The Collegiate, Winterbourne, Bristol and Fettes Junior School, Edinburgh (Scotland). She then returned to Nigeria to attend Abadina College, Ibadan, and obtained a BA degree in English from Ogun State University. Lola’s early works were strictly poetry and short stories, and she published her first volume of poetry, So All the Time I was Sitting on an Egg, in 1998. Afterwards, Lola attended Iowa International Writers Programme, Iowa (USA) in August 1999 and the University of St Thomas, Minnesota the same year. She moved to the UK in 2000, and published her second volume of poetry, Song of a Riverbird, in Nigeria (2002). She obtained a teaching degree from London Metropolitan University in 2005. 2010, Lola released her first published novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, a third poetry collection, For the Love of Flight, (February, 2010) and a children’s book, Mayowa and the Masquerades (July 2010).   The+Secret+Lives+of+Baba+Segi's+Wives DID YOU KNOW THAT… 1.      Lola’s father, Chief Tinuoye Shoneyin, wanted her to study law in University, but she filled English on her JAMB form. 2.      Lola started taking writing seriously till she was in university, and she wrote a series of poems which her lecturers praised very highly. 3.      The late Chief Bola Ige gave her N10,000 in 1996 when she wanted to publish her first collection of poems, So All the Time I Was Sitting on an Egg (1998) 4.      Lola has also written for several newspapers, including The Scotsman and The Guardian; and she writes a weekly blog for Next newspapers. 5.      Lola has written articles and publicly come out against polygamous marriage in Nigeria. 6.      Her father-in-law, Professor Wole Soyinka, never saw the manuscript of her first novel; Lola surprised him by sending him the published novel. 7.      Lola sings, and she’s contacted Ade Bantu and Funsho Ogundipe about a collaborative endeavour, where she would write the songs. 8.      Her maternal grandfather, HRH Abraham Olayinka Okupe (1896-1976) was the traditional ruler of Iperu-Remo and had five wives, influenced her debut novel The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives (2010). 9.       One of her early short stories appeared in Post Express in 1995, about a Nigerian woman who leaves her husband for an Austrian woman. A story which initiated dialogue into lesbianism within a Nigerian context. 10.  Lola created The Ake Arts & Book Festival, and the maiden edition took place on the 19th – 24th November 2013 at Abeokuta, Ogun State (Nigeria). [caption id="attachment_5700" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Source: flickr.com Source: flickr.com[/caption] 11.  Her unpublished collection of short stories was shortlisted for an ANA (Association of Nigerian Writers) prose prize in 1999. 12.  Her novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, is actually her third novel, as the first two were never published 13.  Lola was born in Oluyoro Nursing Home in Ibadan, and she was delivered by an Indian doctor. 14.  Her poem Kiitan is a tribute to her child, whose pregnancy was terminated because the baby had a crania anencephaly (meaning - the baby’s nervous system didn’t develop, so the baby was unlikely to live beyond twenty-four hours). 15.  And the poem Jolademi is about and named after her younger son. 16.  Lola has stated that she would not be writing a sequel to The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. 17.  Her favourite book is Sula (1973) by Toni Morrison. Lola is married to Olaokun Soyinka, a medical doctor and the son of Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. They have four children and four dogs (though one has three legs).   By Olusola Agbaje

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