A Tribute to Biyi Bandele: One of Nigeria's Most Prolific Filmmakers and Writers.
His flowing locs, charming smile, creative eye and adoring personality will be sorely missed but his memory will remain firmly etched in our memories and hearts.
Prolific Nollywood writer and director Biyi Bandele, famously known for directing Half of a Yellow Sun, Fifty and Blood Sisters, has died at the age of 54. His daughter Temi Bandele, and Ebonylife Studios CEO Mo Abudu confirmed that the maverick filmmaker passed away on the 7th of August in Lagos.
During his lifetime, his contribution to the Nigerian film industry was markedly notable and cannot be overstated, writing and directing some of the most innovative, thrilling and moving stories that have graced numerous screens in the country and even outside of it. His latest project Elesin Oba, The King’s Horseman ー an adaption of Wole Soyinka's stage play Death and the King's Horseman ー is set to have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022, an impressive feat that’s going to be beneficial to many. His achievements, in addition to his charming personality, are why the news of his passing is painfully devastating and sad.
Born in 1967 to Yoruba parents in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, Bandele’s early years were mostly spent up north. After he turned 18, he moved to Lagos for a brief period, before once again relocating ー this time several miles away from his hometown ー to the South Western part of the country where he enrolled in Obafemi Awolowo University to study Drama. It's in his time in Ife that he began to distinguish himself as an excellent and bright writer, winning the International Student Playscript competition of 1989 with an unpublished play titled Rain and also taking home the British Council Lagos Award for a collection of poems the following year.
After bagging his degree in OAU, he moved to London where he published his first set of brilliant novels: The Man Who Came in From the Back of Beyond and The Sympathetic Undertaker: and Other Dreams, the former which aptly captures the decaying standards, militarism and poverty of Nigeria at the time of release and the latter which provides a vivid image of the fierce political and social realities of Nigeria in the late 1980s. These two books would set the tone for his subsequent works which were high-powered, first-rate and oftentimes multifaceted.
The aforementioned works include writing radio drama and screenplays for television, most notably Rain; Marching for Fausa, Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought, Two Horsemen (which was selected as Best New Play at the 1994 London New Plays Festival), Death Catches the Hunter and Me and the Boys and Oroonoko, an adaptation of Aphra Behn's 17th-century novel of the same name. In 1997, he also successfully dramatised Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.
In 2007, Bandele released his latest and perhaps his most moving work Burma Boy, a harrowing account of the mayhem, the sacrifice and the dark humour of the Second World War's most vicious battleground, the Burmese jungle. In his review of the novel for The Independent, Tony Gould wrote: “Burma Boy explores to the full the inhumanity of modern warfare while celebrating the humanity of warriors caught up in it. It is a fine achievement, not least in giving the previously unheard