Copyright 2014, Peter Bennett

Nigerian novelist and filmmaker Biyi Bandele has passed on. He died on August 7th in Lagos. He was 54 years old. The cause of death is unknown.

The news of his passing was made known by his daughter Temi Bandele on his Facebook page, which is now being managed by his family.

Shocking news: As Biyi’s daughter, 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. 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.

We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Bandele, who is without doubt one of Africa’s finest creative minds, built an extensive career across various creative spaces, achieving success in literature and film. At the time of his death, he was involved in a number of in-progress, highly-anticipated projects, including a new novel titled Yoruba Boy Running, forthcoming in 2023, and the film adaptation of the play Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka, which Bandele wrote and directed.

Born in Kaduna in 1967, Bandele spent his early years in Northern Nigeria. He developed a love for writing at an early age, winning his first short story competition at the young age of 14. He studied Drama at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he was the recipient of the International Student Playscript competition of 1989 and a British Council Lagos Award for a poetry collection in 1990. That same year, he moved to London to work for the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. His first novel The Man Who Came in From the Back of Beyond, was published in 1991, followed, eight years later, by The Street. In 2007, he published his most acclaimed novel yet Burma Boy, described by The Guardian UK as “a fine achievement.” He is also well-known for his work in theatre, having written plays, acted, and directed.

Bandele made his directorial debut with the 2013 adaptation of the bestselling novel Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The film held the record at the time for the highest budget for a Nigerian film and received rave reviews upon its premier. Bandele followed up the movie with successful projects like Fifty, the series MTV Shuga, and the Netflix Original series Blood Sisters, regarded as one of the most compelling movie series by a Nigerian director and a Netflix box-office hit.

Tributes have since poured in from friends, fans, and colleagues of Bandele. All are understandably shocked and grieved at the loss of such a beautifully talented soul.

May his soul Rest In Peace.