September 26, 2022

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Nigerian novelist Biyi Bandele is dead

Biyi Bandele, a film director and writer, has died.

Temi Bandele, his daughter, issued a statement announcing his death.

Bandele, best known for directing the film adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s classic novel Half of a Yellow Sun, died on Sunday, according to reports.

The cause of his death is unknown.

He was 54 years old at the time. A statement released by his family on Monday said he died on Sunday in Lagos.

“I am heartbroken to share the sudden and unexpected death on Sunday 7th of August in Lagos of my father Biyi Bandele,” the statement announcing his death said.

“Biyi was a prodigiously talented writer and film-maker, as well as a loyal friend and beloved father. 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.”

Biyi was born to parents from Abeokuta, Ogun State, in Kafanchan, Kaduna State.

Biyi Bandele
Biyi Bandele

He was studying Dramatic Arts at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile Ife, when he won the BBC Playwriting Competition. He then moved to England and had a successful writing career.

He was a dedicated artist with a strong love of life and a long list of accomplishments in his writing and filmmaking careers. 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, is his most recent work.

The film has not yet been released, but it will be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September.

He previously co-directed Blood Sisters, a four-part Netflix original television drama series produced by EbonyLife Films. His previous works include Half of a Yellow Sun (Shareman Media & State Films, 2013), an adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s novel of the same name; and Fifty Shades of Grey (Shareman Media & State Films, 2014). (Ebony Films, 2015).

He also directed the highly successful TV series SHUGA: What’s Your Reality? He directed FELA – Father of Afrobeat (2018), a BBC TV special documentary, and Africa States of Independence, a self-produced TV-movie documentary (2010).

His fiction and non-fiction work includes The Street, Burma Boy, a novel about his father and other WWII veterans who served in Burma, India, which he was working on to be adapted for film.

His other works include The Man Who Came in from Beyond, The Sympathetic Undertaker, and Yoruba Boy Running, which he recently completed and submitted for publication.

Biyi was a loving father to his two children, Korede and Temi.

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