Biyi Bandele, popular filmmaker and writer, dies at 54


Biyi Bandelé

By Nehru Odeh

Biyi Bandele, popular playwright, novelist and filmmaker is dead. The author of books such as The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond, The Sympathetic Undertaker and Burma Boy died on Sunday August 7 at the age of 54, his daughter, Temi Biyi-Bandele, announced on Monday.

“I am heartbroken to share the sudden and unexpected death on Sunday August 7th in Lagos of my father Biyi Bandele. Biyi was a prodigiously talented writer and filmmaker, as well as a loyal friend and beloved father,” said she declared.

“He was a storyteller to the core, with unflinching perspective, a singular voice and a wisdom that spoke boldly through all his art, in poetry, novels, plays and on screen. He told stories that had a profound impact and inspired many around the world, and his legacy will live on through his work.

“He was taken from us far too soon. He had already said so much with so much beauty, and had so much more to say. We ask everyone to please respect the privacy of their family and friends as we mourn their loss,” she added.

Born to parents from Abeokuta, Ogun State in Kafanchan in southern Kaduna on October 13, 1967, Biyi was studying drama at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife , when he won the BBC Playwriting Competition, and subsequently moved to England where he enjoyed a flourishing career as a writer.

The novelist, playwright and filmmaker, was a dedicated artist with a strong passion for life and a string of successes in his career as a writer and filmmaker.

His latest work is Elesin Oba, the king’s horseman (2022), which he adapted from Wole Soyinka’s classic drama, Death and the King’s Rider, and made for EbonyLife Films. The film has yet to be released but is set to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, in September.

He previously co-directed blood sistersa 4-part Netflix original TV drama series, also for EbonyLife Films.

His earlier works included Half of a yellow sun (Shareman Media & State Films, 2013) adapted from the novel of the same title by Chimamanda Adichie; Fifty (Ebony Movies, 2015).

He was also the director of the hit television seriesSHUGA: What’s your reality?. He directed FELA – Father of Afrobeat (2018), a special television documentary for the BBC; and his self-produced telefilm documentary, African independence states (2010).

His fiction and non-fiction work included The Street, Burma Boy, a novel, a recreation of the story of his father and other World War II veterans, who served in Burma, India, on which he was working on to be adapted for Film.

His other writing works included The man who came from the back of the beyond, the sympathetic entrepreneurand Yoruba boy running, which he recently concluded and submitted for publication.

Biyi was a devoted father to his son, Korede and daughter, Temi.

He will be greatly missed. Further announcements will be made by the family shortly.


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