A Timeline of How Director Biyi Bandele Stole Our Hearts With His Work

August 9, 2022

After making us fall in love with his work on and offscreen, popular playwright, novelist and director, Biyi Bandele has passed away, according to a Facebook statement by his daughter, Temi Bandele.

While Biyi may be famous for directing the 2013 adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Nollywood’s Netflix megahit miniseries, Blood Sisters — not to be confused with the early 2000s Nollywood home video, his work cuts across stage, books and television. 

Here’s a timeline of his incredible work. 

1980s — 1990s: Biyi Bandele’s penmanship got the world’s attention 

Leaving Kaduna, where he’d spent most of his life, Biyi Bandele made the big boy move to the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, to study drama in 1987. 

While there, Biyi displayed incredible talent as a writer, winning the 1989 International Student Playscript Competition and the British Council Lagos Award in 1990. 

Biyi eventually moved to London in 1990 at just 22, where he worked with the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He wrote screenplays for TV and Radio, including Rain, Two Horsemen and Marching for Fausa. He also wrote the acclaimed books:  The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond and The Street

2007: Burma Boy 

After years of killing it as a playwright and author, Biyi released one of his most famous works, Burma Boy, in 2007. 

The book is a fictionalised story based on stories Biyi himself heard from his father as a child about the Burma Campaign during World War II. The book became a hit, with Oloture director Kenneth Gyang recently revealing that he was in talks with Biyi to turn it into a feature film. 

2013: Biyi gave us a little Shuga with Half of a Yellow Sun 

Many people consider Chimamanda Adichie’s 2006 book Half of a Yellow Sun to be one of the best works of literature to come out of Nigeria. So when it came time for the book to transition from page to screen, Biyi Bandele was the director trusted to do the job. 

After months of shooting in Calabar with stars like Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anika Noni-Rose and Genevieve Nnaji, Half of a Yellow Sun premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2013. 

Two months after Half of a Yellow Sun, Biyi struck again, this time with his work on MTV’s sexual health-themed show, Shuga Naija featuring Tiwa Savage, Olumide Owuru and Ms DSF. 

RECOMMENDED: 5 Nigerian Books We’re Itching to See on the Big Screen

2015: Biyi teamed up with Nollywood’s leading ladies

Most people may know EbonyLife Films for their chaotic wedding ensemble, The Wedding Party. But before the Kemi Adetiba hit, Ebonylife’s first film was actually Fifty with Ireti Doyle, Dakore Egbuson, Nse-Ikpe Etim and Omoni Oboli as four fifty-year-old women trying to hack life and love in Lagos

Fifty premiered on October 17, 2015, at the BFI London Film Festival, London. At this point, it’s safe to say that Biyi was the king of international premieres. 

2020: Biyi works on a Fela project 

To celebrate the real don gorgon of Nigerian music, Biyi Bandele directed Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeats, a special documentary for the BBC, narrated by Julie Adenuga. 

2021 — 2022: Biyi made us fall in love with fugitives 

Towards the end of what seemed like a calm 2021 for Biyi, we started spotting behind-the-scenes photos on his Instagram page of Kate Henshaw, Ini Dinma-Okojie, Nancy Isime and Ramsey Noah from a secret project he was working on with EbonyLife Films. 

Originally announced as a film, the secret project was then revealed to be the limited series Blood Sisters, which premiered as a Netflix exclusive on May 5, 2022. 

Blood Sisters was a massive hit, scoring 11 million viewing hours in five days and inspiring Astor to write his first positive So You Don’t Have To review. Everyone still talks about the show today, not just because it was entertaining, but because it renewed a sense of hope in Nollywood after a rough start to the year

Teaming up with EbonyLife one final time, Biyi directed the studio’s adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, retitled Elesin Oba, the King’s Horseman

The adaptation, which features Odunlade Adekola, Omowunmi Dada, Shaffy Bello and Deyemi Okanlawon, is set to premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

ALSO READ: We Need to Talk About the Fabulous Outfits on Blood Sisters

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

November 28, 2019

There are so many talented and stunning Nollywood actors that make it hard not to fall in love with them. So, while we all know the likelihood of us ending up with any of them is super low, it’s still fun to imagine a world where we actually stood a chance, and that’s why this […]

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

More from Pop

September 23, 2022

We know some of these plots happen in real life, but we’re tired of seeing them in Nollywood movies. At this point, once you see some signs, it becomes very easy to predict how the movie would end. Please, what happened to suspense in our movies?

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X