Original Research

An African woman’s dilemma in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives: A bosadi perspective on the challenges and pains of infertility

Gift T. Baloyi
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 40, No 1 | a1957 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.1957 | © 2019 Gift T. Baloyi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 November 2018 | Published: 24 October 2019

About the author(s)

Gift T. Baloyi, Department of Philosophy, Systematic and Practical Theology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


This article deals with the predicament faced by an African woman in novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. In this fascinating novel, Lola Shoneyin wrestles with several cultural pressures in marriage, which are also prevalent among black women in South African communities. The article grapples with dilemmas, challenges and unbearable pains of women who are often blamed for infertility in marriage, without a consideration of the fact that medical problems leading to infertility are non-discriminatory in nature. It argues that: (1) women’s sexuality is viewed with a patriarchal prejudice; (2) the referral of infertile woman as worthless, which in essence reveals the quality of their inter-subjective relationship, depicts men as the agents and women as the objects in marriage; and (3) that the order of the African family unit is deeply constructed on gender lopsidedness. In the end, Masenya’s notion of bosadi (womanhood) is employed to indicate the significance of the way in which a woman was created by God to be a fully active human.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Even though this article is written from a practical theological point of view, its nature has implications for other disciplines in the area of social sciences. The article approaches the question of gender from multidisciplinary angles.


African women; bosadi (womanhood); empathy; infertility; marriage; pastoral care; patriarchy; power dynamics


Total abstract views: 2731
Total article views: 3754

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.