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Getting To Know Biyi Bandele (Co-Writer For “Fela” Biopic)

17065_biyibandeleAs previously mentioned on this blog, Hunger director Steve McQueen is currently working on bringing the life of Afro-beat king Fela Kuti to the big screen. The screenplay, which will be based on Michael Veal’s biography Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon, is being written by both McQueen and British-Nigerian novelist and playwright, Biyi Bandele.

We all know who Steve McQueen is at this point. But who is Biyi Bandele.

Here’s a brief bio:

Biyi Bandele was born in Nigeria in 1967, and now lives in London, where he’s been since 1990. He’s written several plays, and worked with the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as writing radio drama and screenplays for television. He was a Judith E. Wilson Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge from 2000-2002, and Royal Literary Fund Resident Playwright at Bush Theatre from 2002-2003.

His plays are: Rain; Marching for Fausa (1993); Resurrections in the Season of the Longest Drought (1994); Two Horsemen (1994), selected as Best New Play at the 1994 London New Plays Festival; Death Catches the Hunter and Me and the Boys (published in one volume, 1995). Brixton Stories, his stage adaptation of his own novel The Street (1999), premiered in 2001, and was published in one volume with his play, Happy Birthday Mister Deka, which premiered in 1999.

Bandele has also written five novels: The Man Who Came In From the Back of Beyond (1991); The Sympathetic Undertaker: and Other Dreams (1991); The Street (1999); Burma Boy (2007): and The King’s Rifle (2009).

In 1997 he adapted Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for the stage (that would have been really interesting to see), and in 1999 wrote a new adaptation of Aphra Benn’s Oroonoko, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

I wasn’t at all familiar with Bandele or any of his works until hearing about his tag-team Fela effort with McQueen. And I intend to get to know more about him and his writing, having just bought his last book to get me started - The King’s Rifle.

Figured I’d work my way backwards, slowly but surely…

He’s apparently conquered 2 other notable literary formats – the novel and the stage play. With Fela, his first foray into feature-film screenwriting, I expect he’ll be one to watch going forward – especially if Fela is the critical success that I hope it will be.

4 comments to Getting To Know Biyi Bandele (Co-Writer For “Fela” Biopic)

  • Nice info. I hope they do this project justice. It’s a big undertaking. Not really into Fela’s views but I think he’s such an over the top character that will translate well in film.

  • Thats what i’m talking about, they got a plan in place!

  • coco

    Ignorant, but when I first saw the picture I thought that it was the singer D’angelo -who was back and now writing a film about Fela! I figured that he changed his name (a la Cat Stevens) and was now out to prove something! That would have been a really interesting story! That is why we must always read people!