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Tributes Pour in as Nigerian Playwright and Filmmaker, Niyi Bandele Dies at 54

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Niyi Bandele
Niyi Bandele

By Uche Amunike

The Nollywood industry and indeed, Nigerians have continued to pour in their tributes since the death of Ace Nigerian playwright and filmmaker, Niyi Bandele was announced, Monday, by his daughter on her Facebook page.

The deceased Novelist, who  was the director of the blockbusters, Half of a Yellow Sun and Co-Director of Blood Sisters died, Sunday at the age of 54.

His daughter, Temi released an official statement on Facebook and it read: ‘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 filmmaker, 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 worldwide. His legacy will live on through his work. He was taken from us much too soon. He had already said so beautifully and had so much more to say. We wish everyone to please respect the privacy of his family and friends as we grieve his loss.’

The entertainment world has been thrown into deep mourning, as seen from their tributes to him.

Successful Filmmaker, Mo Abudu wrote: ‘Biyi had an eye for a story, was always passionate about his work, and had a great love for Yoruba culture. We will miss his dedication, cheerful spirit and collaborative nature. Rest in peace, dear friend.’

Biyi Bandele was the movie director of most of Mo’s film projects, including ‘Fifty’ in 2015, episodes 1 and 2 of ‘Blood Sisters’ in 2022, as well as the forthcoming film, ‘Elesin Oba’, The King’s Horseman, for which he wrote the screenplay. It is actually one of his last works and is billed to be premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

As for successful thespian, Ireti Doyle, she tweeted that Niyi Bandele was the one who gave her one of the biggest moments of her career.

Hear her: ‘One day, we’ll tell the stories behind the story. At a pivotal point in my career, this man went to bat for me. Had never met him before that fateful day in the audition room. Ended up handing me one of my biggest moments. Rest in power, Sir!’

On his part, popular film curator, Shuaibu Husseini tweeted: ‘Sad Day globally for the theatre and film industry. Notable writer and Director Biyi Bandele (Half of A Yellow Sun, Fifty, Blood Sisters And the anticipated Elesin Oba) is DEAD! This is so tragic! At 54? We have just lost an ‘institution’! Have mercy, Lord! Journey Well, Biyi! Go well!’

Another playwright and dramatist, Mufu Onifade wrote: ‘This sudden death pricks me to the marrow! At times, like this, even silence does not provide answers to many whys rummaging our minds. Noises will fizzle in the air just like a fart, and silence is not always golden. Indeed, life and times are transient! Rest In Peace, great creative thinker. RIP, great writer and film director. RIP, Biyi Bandele! May your journey home be smooth’.

The late Biyi was a devoted father to his daughter, Temi and son, Korede.

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