Yemi Akinyemi Dele: Meet Nigerian going to the moon

The dearMoon mission – a trip around the moon- scheduled for 2023 will be embarked upon by nine passengers aboard a Starship, including Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and a choreographer of Nigerian origin, Yemi Akinyemi Dele.

ON September 17, 2018, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), Elon Musk, along with Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, announced that a group of private citizens would be making a trip around the moon in 2023.

The trip, which will loop around – but not land on – the moon, is tagged the dearMoon mission” sponsored by Maezawa, who said the experience would be shared with about six to eight artists, including painters, sculptors, fashion designers and architects, who will all fly free of charge.

Maezawa expects that the flight will influence artists in their creation of new art, which will be presented after their return to Earth, to inspire other humans and promote world peace.

He invited artists around the world to apply for the opportunity and, on December 8, 2022, announced eight crew members out of over a million applications who will embark on the six-day journey around the moon. On the flight would be a Nigerian-Czech choreographer and multidisciplinary creative artist, Yemi Akinyemi Dele.

Yemi Akinyemi Dele’s childhood

Dele, also known as Yemi A.D., was born in Liberec, Czech Republic, to a Nigerian father, Abayomi Akinyemi, and a Czech mother, Vera Didiova, on November 4, 1981. He was the only black child in the city at the time.

Yemi A.D. and parents
Yemi A.D. and parents: Photo courtesy of Yemi Akinyemi Dele Team.

In 1985, when he was four years old, his father, Akinyemi, got stuck in Nigeria during one of his regular visits to the country due to a military uprising. Nigeria witnessed a military coup in August 1985, during which former Head of State Ibrahim Babangida overthrew Muhammadu Buhari, the country’s ruler at the time. This eventually led to an 18-year separation during which both parents got married to other partners.

During this time, Yemi lived with his mother, had his education in Prague and later studied Street Dance at a Hollywood Dance School in Los Angeles, United States of America (USA) Madonna Grimes.

Yemi A.D. and his mother Vera Didiova
Yemi A.D. and his mother Vera Didiova: Photo courtesy of Yemi Akinyemi Dele Team.

He returned to Prague in 1991, where he established the JAD Dance Company (JAD DC), a Czech and international team of dancers and choreographers.

As technology advanced globally, Yemi reconnected with his father through the Internet. At this time, he discovered he had four other siblings from his father’s new marriage, including three sisters and a brother with Down Syndrome.

The siblings, along with his father and new wife, relocated to Prague in 2008.

Work and career

Dele established the JAD Dance Company in 2010.

His works and performances have gained global renown, and he collaborated with Kanye West, who hired him in 2010 to choreograph a ballet-inspired sequence for an album.

Dele is an ambassador of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the Czech Republic and was appointed Czech Goodwill Ambassador in 2019.

He also visited Nigeria in 2019 for the first time and hosted a workshop at the University of Lagos titled “The future of creativity” aimed at helping young Nigerians explore opportunities and apply for scholarships to study Dance or Java Script in Europe.

He is an inductee in the Henry Crown Fellowship Network at the Aspen Institute USA in May 2020.

In 2022, JAD Dance Company was recognised for its digital innovation and non-profit initiative responses to pandemic challenges in Central Europe through the Anti-Panic Conference.

The conference, launched in 2020, was an interactive livestream where business leaders and creatives share positive examples of dealing with problems and finding solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    According to a press release obtained by The ICIR from his management team, Yemi described the dearMoon mission as an opportunity to inspire young people to dream big and aim for great heights.

    “I am incredibly proud and honoured to represent my ancestral homeland, Nigeria, and my native Czech Republic on this cosmic mission. I invite all creative souls to join. My hope is that young people, in particular, see from my example that it doesn’t matter how or where you start your journey but where you aim. This opportunity is proof that with imagination, there is no limit to our potential!” he said.

    The dearMoon mission is the first civilian lunar exploration and will be carried out beyond low Earth orbit, which is further than any human has gone, a trip which Musk has described as dangerous.

    “This is no walk in the park. When you’re pushing the frontier, it’s not a sure thing,” Musk said.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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