By Nehru Odeh
Biyi Bandele, popular playwright, novelist and filmmaker is dead. The author of works such as The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond, The Sympathetic Undertaker and Burma Boy died on Sunday 7 August 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 7th of August in Lagos of my father Biyi Bandele. Biyi was a prodigiously talented writer and film-maker, as well as a loyal friend and beloved father,” she said.
“He was a storyteller to his bones, with an unblinking perspective, singular voice and wisdom which spoke boldly through all of his art, in poetry, novels, plays and on screen. He told stories which made a profound impact and inspired many all over the world. His legacy will live on through his work.
“He was taken from us much too soon. He had already said so much so beautifully, and had so much more to say. We ask everyone to please respect the privacy of his family and friends as we grieve his loss,” she added.
Born to parents of Abeokuta, Ogun State in Kafanchan in Southern Kaduna, on 13 October, 1967, Biyi was studying Dramatic Arts at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife, when he won the BBC Playwriting Competition, and thereafter relocated to England where he had a flourishing career as a writer.
The novelist, playwright and filmmaker, was a dedicated artist with strong passion for life and a string of successes in his writing and filmmaking career.
His latest work is Elesin Oba, the King’s Horseman (2022), which he adapted from Wole Soyinka’s classic drama, Death & The King’s Horseman, and directed for EbonyLife Films. The film is yet to be released but slated to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, in September.
He had earlier co-directed Blood Sisters, a 4-part Netflix-original television drama series, also for EbonyLife Films.
His earlier works included Half of a Yellow Sun (Shareman Media & State Films, 2013) adapted from Chimamanda Adichie’s novel of same title; Fifty (Ebony Films, 2015).
He was also a director of the highly successful Television Series, SHUGA: What’s Your Reality. He directed FELA – Father of Afrobeat (2018), a TV special documentary for the BBC; and his self-produced TV-Movie documentary, Africa States of Independence (2010).
His fiction and non-fiction work included The Street, Burma Boy, a novel, a recreation of the story of his father and other veterans of the Second World War, who served in Burma, India, which he was working on to be adapted for Film.
His other writing works included The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond, The Sympathetic Undertaker, and Yoruba Boy Running, which he recently concluded and submitted for publishing.
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.