It was a short, small and sombre ceremony earlier in Lagos today as the remains of Nigerian-born British playwright and director, Biyi Bandele, was laid to rest.
At the Ikoyi Vaults where the final funeral rites held, few film and theatre industry practitioners were present along with siblings, relatives and friends who gathered to honour the late thespian.
The remains of the 54-year-old director of Half of a Yellow Sun and Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman was later cremated in accordance with his wish and in line with the Lagos State law on cremation.
The short burial ceremony saw siblings and friends of the deceased give tributes in a solemn ceremony that had Wura Samba perform drum sequence to renditions from Prof. Wole Soyinka and the late Ulli Bier’s poetic works.
Biyi’s sister, Modupe Bandele; his girlfriend, Hauwa, and friends like Makin Soyinka and Jide Bello spoke as part of the performance of obsequies.
So did frontline filmmaker, Tunde Kelani, who read a dirge from a Soyinka’s work.
Bandele’s England-based 20-year-old daughter, Temi, also extolled her father virtues in a vote of thanks.
The Abeokuta-born, award-winning filmmaker passed away on Sunday August 7 in Lagos.
Although an autopsy was said to have been performed on the deceased, TCN gathered that the family prefers to keep the result private.
Friday’s funeral ceremony was also attended by Dr. Tunde Awosanmi, Mrs. E. Soetan,Toyin Akinoso, and Temi Bandele’s mother, Andrea Calderwood.
It was learnt that a celebration of his life is being planned towards end of the year.
Bandele’s shocking death had come exactly a month to the landmark screening of his latest film, Elesin Oba: Death And The King’s Horseman, which premiered earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival.
His daughter, Temi, was at the premiere and took a bow on behalf of her late dad, alongside other cast and crew members of the film produced by EbonyLife Studios as an adaptation of the popular play by Prof. Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman.
In releasing a formal statement on the passing of her dad last month, Temi had said: “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. He was taken from us much too soon.”
Born on October 13, 1967 as Biyi Bandele-Thomas, the late filmmaker studied dramatic arts at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) Nigeria and in England.
He directed Half of a Yellow Sun in 2013, a screen adaptation of Chimamande Ngozi-Adichie’s novel of the same title on the Biafran war of the late 1960s.
Before Elesin Oba, he had worked with EbonyLife Studios as the director of Blood Sisters, a Netflix original series and as the director of Fifty, a feature film in 2015.
He is survived by a son, Korede and a daughter, Temi, as well as two siblings and relations.