Getting to know late Biyi Bandele a Nigerian Writer
Mr Biyi Bandele was a writer, filmmaker, and theatrical performer who passed away at the age of 54. He was a creative icon in the West African arts community and popularized traditional Nigerian tales for a global audience.
He was the author of the coming-of-age war novel Burna Boy as well as the creator and co-director of the much-liked Netflix TV series Blood Sisters. He was also praised for adapting notable works of Nigerian literature, such as Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and the stage version of Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. He had just completed seeing the movie Elesin Oba: The King's Horseman, which was adapted from Wole Soyinka's well-known play.
Mr Biyi was a Renaissance guy and a serial storyteller who explored a variety of artistic genres to express his ideas and voice. He started out young, winning his first literary prize at the age of 14.
Over the next four decades, he worked tirelessly and with enthusiasm to become one of the most well-known and accomplished storytellers of his era. He knew how to operate across media, elevating Nigerian culture and letting it influence popular culture around the world while making Nigerian stories relevant.
Mr Biyi was a Nigerian (inter)national who was born in the north, received her education in the south, and now resides in the UK. Or, to use his terminology, an insider-outsider. He embarrassed a good number of Nigerian creatives with his readiness to mentor others despite his international fame.
He was always eager to assist everybody he came across, whether they were aspiring artists, academics like myself, or artists with or without expertise. Biyi said that he was working on a new book with a short deadline in our most recent email in May. He had a reputation for being a tough, determined worker. His extremely busy filmmaking schedule was fully booked through December.
Mr Biyi, a true African thinker who possessed a fierce sense of independence and originality, was motivated by a passion for tradition and literature.
An obituary that was published in the online literary magazine Brittle Paper served as a sign of Biyi's influence as a writer and the void he leaves in the literary world. In it, 100 writers from Africa honor his life and contributions. Adichie claims:
A genuine star has left us. Too (painfully) soon. a decent person. an actual artist.
With the publication of Burna Boy in 2007, which tells the tale of African soldiers fighting for the British conquerors against Japan during World War II, Biyi gained notoriety. Biyi had always wanted to write a book called Burna Boy. It was based on the tales of his father's friends and his father's acquaintances who experienced the Burna War.
Despite criticism that Burna Boy doesn't hold together particularly well as a novel, it is successful. By presenting an African perspective on the fight from a live continent, it significantly adds to the body of knowledge on African history. As is customary in well-known Nigerian tales, Biyi punctuates the severity of his narrative with African proverbs, anecdotes, and idioms.
In this and his earlier published pieces, The Street (1999) and The Sympathetic Undertaker and Other Dreams, he concentrates on regular, genuine people and their actual experiences (1991).
Although Mr Biyi is well recognized for his work in television, he made his directing debut with the highly expensive movie Half of a Yellow Sun in 2013. He had exceptional talent and was able to get his cast to provide strong performances.
The movie encountered a number of issues, such as censorship issues in Nigeria that delayed production, negative reviews from critics, piracy, and a low return on investment, while breaking box office records there. Mr Biyi had however demonstrated his mastery of historical recreations and adaptations.
He had already performed Things Fall Apart, a great drama by Achebe, and published his own pieces. He produced a documentary about the renowned Nigerian singer Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Mr Biyi produced a number of popular TV dramas. He was the director of the 2013 season of the MTV drama Shuga, which follows the challenges of young Africans in real life.
The numerous polarities encountered by middle-aged women everywhere, but particularly in Lagos, are explored in his glitzy 2015 film Fifty. Here, he emphasizes the diverse yet stunning megacity of Nigeria, where he was once more employed and would ultimately perish.
He put in a lot of effort to co-direct Blood Sisters, one of Nollywood's most popular miniseries (2022). My study indicates that it is a tale that exposes the pain of gender inequity while praising sisterhood and breaking taboos. Within a week of its premiere, Blood Sisters was among the top 10 most watched Netflix series, drawing fans from all around the world.
The Complete Works
Biyi had grand aspirations for the future, including writing books and making movies. His absence is greatly felt, particularly in light of the growing interest in the Netflix and EbonyLife production Elesin Oba: The King's Horseman. It is slated for release in September and is expected to make its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. This could very well be his best adaption.
The play, which Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for, is based, examines actual historical events. Elesin Oba will be appealing to those seeking a (re)connection to their roots and traditions on a continent where Nigerian society is becoming more and more globalized. The play is difficult to read for certain pupils, and I was previously in this group, but Biyi's version will be a fun alternative. He will contribute to the ongoing relevance of the great masterpieces he adapted.
Biyi indicated further unfinished projects. He intended to turn Burna Boy into a movie. He reportedly mentioned a new book that will be published in 2023.
We are aware that Elesin makes a sacrifice in Death and the King's Horseman in order to ensure the Oba's safety and further travel (king). We don't know why Biyi left right before this significant reproduction was unveiled. He will be regarded as a remarkably gifted writer and director, as well as a diligent worker, a mentor, and a good man. His artistic creations are now immortal, leaving his name in the sands of time.
Originally Posted on https://africa-executive.com/