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Biyi Bandele Biography
Biyi Bandele was born Biyi Bandele-Thomas; 13 October 1967, died 7 August 2022, was a Nigerian novelist, playwright and filmmaker.
Bandele was a UK-based Nigerian writer for fiction, theatre, journalism, television, film and radio. He moved to London in 1990.
Early Life and Education
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, while Nigeria was still part of the British Empire. Bandele spent the first 18 years of his life in the north-central part of the country.
Bandele had ambitions to be a writer and when he was 14 years old he won a short-story competition. Later on, he moved to Lagos, then in 1987 studied drama at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
He won the International Student Playscript competition of 1989 with an unpublished play, Rain, before claiming the 1990 British Council Lagos Award for a collection of poems.
He moved to London in 1990 at the age of 22 armed with the manuscripts of two novels.
His books were published, and he was given a commission by the Royal Court Theatre.
Biyi Bandele Career
Bandele worked with the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as writing radio drama and screenplays for television.
His plays include: Rain; Marching for Fausa (1993); Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought (1994); Two Horsemen (1994), selected as Best New Play at the 1994 London New Plays Festival; Death Catches the Hunter and Me and the Boys (published in one volume, 1995); and Oroonoko, an adaptation of Aphra Behn’s 17th-century novel of the same name.
In 1997, he did a successful dramatization of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
Brixton Stories, Bandele’s stage adaptation of his own novel The Street (1999), premiered in 2001 and was published in one volume with his play Happy Birthday Mister Deka, which premiered in 1999. He also adapted Lorca’s Yerma in 2001.
He was writer-in-residence with Talawa Theatre Company from 1994 to 1995, resident dramatist with the Royal National Theatre Studio (1996), the Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, in 2000–01.
He also acted as Royal Literary Fund Resident Playwright at the Bush Theatre from 2002 to 2003.
Biyi 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.”
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.
His directorial debut film Half of a Yellow Sun was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and received a “rapturous reception”.
The film received a wide range of critical attention. His new film, entitled Fifty, was included in the 2015 London Film Festival.
He also directed the third season of the popular MTV drama series, Shuga. In 2022 he directed the first Netflix Nigerian Original series, Blood Sisters.
He was announced as the director of the new 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”, and is set to premier at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022.
Biyi Bandele Cause of Death
His untimely death was announced on Facebook by his daughter, on August 9, 2022. The cause of death has not been confirmed.
- 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).
Biyi Bandele Awards
- 1989 – International Student Play Script 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
Biyi Bandele Net Worth
Biyi Bandele net worth is not available.