Biyi Bandele (born Biyi Bandele-Thomas; 13 October 1967 – 7 August 2022[1]) was a Nigerian novelist, playwright and filmmaker.[1] He was the author of several novels, beginning with The Man Who Came in From the Back of Beyond (1991), as well as writing stage plays, before turning his focus to filmmaking. His directorial debut was in 2013 with Half of a Yellow Sun, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Biyi Bandele
Biyi Bandele-Thomas

(1967-10-13)13 October 1967
Died7 August 2022(2022-08-07) (aged 54)
Lagos, Nigeria
Alma materObafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
  • Filmmaker
  • novelist
  • playwright
Years active1998–2022
Notable workHalf of a Yellow Sun
Awards1989 – International Student Playscript Competition – Rain

1994 – London New Play Festival – Two Horsemen 1995 – Wingate Scholarship Award

2000 – EMMA (BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Award) for Best Play – Oroonoko

Early life edit

Bandele was born to Yoruba parents in Kafanchan, Kaduna State, Nigeria, in 1967. His father Solomon Bandele-Thomas was a veteran of the Burma Campaign in World War II,[1] while Nigeria was still part of the British Empire. In a 2013 interview with This Day, Bandele said of his ambitions to become a writer: "When I was a child, I remembered war was something that sprang up a lot in conversations on the part of my dad. ... That was probably one of the things that turned me into a writer."[2] When he was 14 years old he won a short-story competition.[3]

Bandele spent the first 18 years of his life in the north-central part of the country, later moving to Lagos, then in 1987 he studied drama at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife,[1][4] having already begun work on his first novel.[5] He won the International Student Playscript competition of 1989 with an unpublished play, Rain,[6] before claiming the 1990 British Council Lagos Award for a collection of poems.[1][7]

He moved to London in 1990, at the age of 22, armed with the manuscripts of two novels.[4] In 1991, his debut novel The Man Who Came in From the Back of Beyond was published, followed by The Sympathetic Undertaker: and Other Dreams,[8] and he was given a commission by the Royal Court Theatre.[4] In 1992, he was awarded an Arts Council of Great Britain writers bursary to continue his writing.[8][9][10]

Career edit

Writing edit

Bandele's writing encompassed fiction, theatre, journalism, television, film and radio.

He worked with London's Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as writing radio drama and screenplays for television.[11] His plays include: Rain;[12] Marching for Fausa (1993);[13] Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought (1994);[14] Two Horsemen (1994),[15] selected as Best New Play at the 1994 London New Plays Festival; Death Catches the Hunter and Me and the Boys[16] (published together in one volume, 1995); and Oroonoko, an adaptation of Aphra Behn's 17th-century novel of the same name.[17] In 1997, Bandele did a successful dramatisation of Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel Things Fall Apart.[3] Brixton Stories, Bandele's stage adaptation of his own novel The Street (1999), premiered in 2001[18] and was published in one volume with his play Happy Birthday Mister Deka, which premiered in 1999.[19][20] He also adapted Lorca's play Yerma in 2001.[3]

Bandele was writer-in-residence with Talawa Theatre Company from 1994 to 1995,[21] resident dramatist with the Royal National Theatre Studio (1996),[22] the Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, in 2000–01.[23] He also acted as Royal Literary Fund Resident Playwright at the Bush Theatre from 2002 to 2003.[1][24]

Bandele wrote of the impact on him of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1956), which he saw on a hire-purchase television set in a railway town in northern Nigeria:[25]

And so although I had yet to set foot outside Kafanchan, although I knew nothing about postwar British society, or the Angry Young Men, or anything about Osborne when I met Jimmy Porter on the screen... there was no need for introductions: I had known Jimmy all my life.

Bandele at the Göteborg Book Fair 2010

Bandele's novels, which include The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond (1991) and The Street (1999), have been described as "rewarding reading, capable of wild surrealism and wit as well as political engagement".[26] His 2007 novel, Burma Boy, reviewed in The Independent by Tony Gould, was called "a fine achievement" and lauded for providing a voice for previously unheard Africans.[27][28]

At the time of his death Bandele had been working on a new novel, entitled Yorùbá Boy Running, to be published in 2023.[8]

Filmmaking edit

His directorial debut film, Half of a Yellow Sun – based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF),[29] and received a "rapturous reception".[30] The film received a wide range of critical attention.[31][32][33][34]

He also directed the third season of the popular MTV drama series, Shuga, which aired in 2013.

His 2015 film, entitled Fifty, was included in the London Film Festival.[35]

In 2022, he directed the first Netflix Nigerian Original series Blood Sisters.

Bandele directed the Netflix and Ebonylife TV co-production Elesin Oba, The King's Horseman, the screen adaptation of Wole Soyinka's stage play Death and the King's Horseman, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022.[36][37] Characterised by Variety as a "passion project" for the director,[38] Elesin Oba, The King's Horseman was "the first-ever Yoruba-language film to premiere at TIFF in the Special Presentation category, and then onto Netflix".[39]

Other work edit

There were plans by galleries in London and New York to exhibit Bandele's photographs of street life in Lagos.[39]

Death edit

Bandele died in Lagos on 7 August 2022 at the age of 54.[40][41][42][43] The cause of death has not been confirmed. His funeral took place on 23 September.[44]

Bibliography edit

  • The Man Who Came in From the Back of Beyond, Bellew, 1991
  • The Sympathetic Undertaker: and Other Dreams, Bellew, 1991
  • Marching for Fausa, Amber Lane Press, 1993
  • Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought, Amber Lane Press, 1994
  • Two Horsemen, Amber Lane Press, 1994
  • Death Catches the Hunter/Me and the Boys, Amber Lane Press, 1995
  • Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart (adaptation), 1999
  • Aphra Behn's Oroonoko (adaptation), Amber Lane Press, 1999
  • The Street, Picador, 1999
  • Brixton Stories/Happy Birthday, Mister Deka, Methuen, 2001
  • Burma Boy, London: Jonathan Cape, 2007. Published as The King's Rifle in the US and Canada (Harper, 2009).

Filmography edit

Awards edit

  • 1989 – International Student Playscript Competition – Rain[45]
  • 1994 – London New Play Festival – Two Horsemen[46]
  • 1995 – Wingate Scholarship Award[47]
  • 2000 – EMMA (BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Award) for Best Play – Oroonoko[48]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Issitt, Micah L. (2009). "Bandele, Biyi". Contemporary Black Biography. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  2. ^ Obioha, Vanessa (9 August 2022). "Prolific Filmmaker Biyi Bandele Dies at 54". This Day. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Gibbs, James (2004), "Bandele, Biyi (1967–)", in Eugene Benson and L. W. Conolly (eds), Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, Routledge, p. 96.
  4. ^ a b c Isa Soares and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, "Biyi Bandele: Making movies to tell Africa's real stories", CNN, 4 March 2014.
  5. ^ Atoke (27 September 2013). "BN Trailblazers & Tastemakers: Nigerian Playwright, Novelist & Film Director Biyi Bandele – From Growing Up in Kafanchan to Directing 'Half of A Yellow Sun' & 'Shuga'!". BellaNaija. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  6. ^ "Telling African Stories: Bandele and Mengestu". Global Black History. 12 March 2014. Archived from the original on 19 May 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  7. ^ " // Ace Photo, Video and Media studios based in Lagos Nigeria". Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Busby, Margaret (3 October 2022). "Biyi Bandele obituary". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Uzoatu, Uzor Maxim (17 August 2022). "Biyi Bandele Who Came In From The Back Of Beyond". Global Upfront Newspapers. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  10. ^ International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. London: Europa Publications. 2003. p. 22.
  11. ^ "Biyi Bandele". The MacMillan Center Council on African Studies. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Biyi Bandele's Rain set on stage in Lagos". The Guardian. Nigeria. 18 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Marching for Fausa". Black Plays Archive. National Theatre.
  14. ^ "Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought". Black Plays Archive. National Theatre.
  15. ^ "Two Horsemen". Black Plays Archive. National Theatre.
  16. ^ "Death Catches the Hunter". Black Plays Archive. National Theatre.
  17. ^ "Oroonoko By Biyi Bandele". Black Plays Archive. National Theatre. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  18. ^ "Brixton Stories (Or the Short and Happy Life of Ossie Jones)". Black Plays Archive. National Theatre.
  19. ^ "Cooperation: German Premiere "Half of a Yellow Sun" – AfricAvenir International". (in French). Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  20. ^ "Happy Birthday Mister Deka D". Black Plays Archive. National Theatre.
  21. ^ "Bandele; Biyi | BPA". Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Leigh, Mike, (born 20 Feb. 1943), dramatist; theatre and film director", Who's Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2007, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.24231
  23. ^ "Biyi Bandele". Curtis Brown. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Biyi Bandele biography | Craig Literary". Archived from the original on 28 May 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  25. ^ "Biyi Bandele". Edinburgh Festival. 22 August 2007. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  26. ^ "Biyi Bandele (Nigeria)" Archived 26 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Centre For Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2011.
  27. ^ "Burma Boy (The King's Rifle) by Biyi Bandele", The Complete Review.
  28. ^ Tony Gould, Burma Boy, by Biyi Bandele: The voice of the unknown soldier – Reviews, Books, The Independent, 29 June 2007. Archived 23 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ "Half of a Yellow Sun". TIFF. Archived from the original on 8 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  30. ^ MacInnes, Paul (19 September 2013). "Biyi Bandele: 'And then we all got typhoid …'". The Guardian.
  31. ^ Guy Lodge, "Toronto Film Review: Half of a Yellow Sun", Variety. 17 September 2013.
  32. ^ Quinn, Karl (27 March 2014). "Director Biyi Bandele cuts the cliches in Half of a Yellow Sun". Sydney Morning Herald.
  33. ^ Dillard, Clayton (12 May 2014). "Review: Half of a Yellow Sun". Slant.
  34. ^ Beesley, Ruby. "Personalising the Political". Aesthetica. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  35. ^ Hamilton, Davina (10 October 2015). "'Not Every Nigerian Film Is A Nollywood Movie'". The Voice. Archived from the original on 26 April 2018. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  36. ^ Nwogu, Precious 'Mamazeus' (26 October 2021). "Biyi Bandele to direct Ebonylife & Netflix's 'Death and the King's Horseman'". Pulse Nigeria. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  37. ^ "Nigeria's Biyi Bandele: A storyteller to his bones". BBC News. 25 September 2022. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  38. ^ Vourlias, Christopher (10 September 2022). "EbonyLife's Mo Abudu on Toronto Premiere 'The King's Horseman' and Legacy of Late Director Biyi Bandele". ariety. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  39. ^ a b Craig, Jessica (18 August 2022). "Obituary: Biyi Bandele". The Bookseller. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  40. ^ Lenbang, Jerry (8 August 2022). "Biyi Bandele, director of 'Half of a Yellow Sun', dies at 54". TheCable Lifestyle. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  41. ^ Busari, Stephanie (9 August 2022). "'A monumental loss to Nigeria's film industry,' director Biyi Bandele passes away at 54". CNN. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  42. ^ Premium Times (8 August 2022). "Nigerian novelist Biyi Bandele is dead". Premium Times Nigeria. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  43. ^ "Biyi Bandele, Director Of 'Half Of A Yellow Sun', Is Dead". Channels Television. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  44. ^ Wood, Molara (25 September 2022). "Nigeria's Biyi Bandele: A storyteller to his bones". BBC News. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  45. ^ "Biyi Bandele's Rain set for the stage in Lagos". The Guardian. Nigeria. 18 August 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  46. ^ "Get To Know The Director Of 'Half Of A Yellow Sun' – Acclaimed Author, Playwright Biyi Bandele". 23 July 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  47. ^ Onyemelukwe, Emerie (4 November 2019). "10 Young African authors making Africa proud". News Central. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  48. ^ "World Book Day 2020". Breaking Barriers. 1 March 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.

External links edit