THE LOSS OF A GEM: NIGERIAN NOVELIST AND DIRECTOR, BIYI BANDELE, DIES AT 54
Nigerian writer and director, Biyi Bandele, died on Sunday 7th August, 2022. The announcement was made by his daughter via a Facebook post. However, cause of death remains unknown.
He was born Biyi Bandele-Thomas to Yoruba parents in Kafanchan, Northern Nigeria where he spent the first 18 years of his life, after which he moved to Lagos. It was always his ambition to become a writer and at the age of 14, he won a short story writing competition. He went on to study drama at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and moved to London at the age of 22.
In London, he had his first two books, The Man Who Came in From the Back of Beyond, and The Sympathetic Undertaker: and Other Dreams, published. His 2007 Novel, Burma, gives a fictional account of the horrors faced by young black Africans fighting in the second World War.
He worked as a playwright with the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company at the beginning of his career and several other British theatres. Some of his plays include: Rain; Marching for Fausa (1993); Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought (1994); and Two Horsemen (1994), which was selected as Best New Play at the 1994 London New Plays Festival. In 1997, he also made a drama adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
He made his debut as a director with a movie adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Half of a yellow Sun and this was screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. He also directed the third season of the popular MTV series, Shuga in 2013. In 2022, he was a co-director of the beloved Netflix Original Nigerian series, Blood Sisters. Bandele’s new movie, Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman, an adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s stage play Death and the King’s Horseman, is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022.
The Nigerian movie industry mourns the loss of a brilliant storyteller whose shoes will be hard to fill. He is survived by two children.