So this is what happened.
We wandered up the street in the warm Seoul air, I smelt like Be Delicious by Donna Karan (my favourite!) , M casually carrying that gorgeous strawberry cake, K with her big gorgeous smile. We had spent the day shopping, drinking coffees ( sweet potato latte for me please!) and just general awesome Seoul life chilling.
We got to the restaurant and continued laughing and joking up the stairs. We had arrived at Braii republic. I was the most excited one because I was getting to eat African food again. Not just any African food, but from the Southside, my general area of Africa. I was salivating at the thought of boerwors, maybe some pap..ahhh
We walked in and informed the smiling waitress we were meeting some people. The place was busy and smelled really good. All the memorabilia hanging on the wall immediately giving me that feeling, I was on home turf… technically . Was that a castle lager sitting on that table?
The waitress led us to the back, the cake secretly given to her for safekeeping for the surprise later on.
Sam greeted us with his famous infectious grin. Always nice, always the gentleman he introduced us to everyone else hanging at the table.
I know you know who Sam Okyere is, I interviewed him a while back when I was hosting Diaspora Truth on blogtalk radio. I was fortunate enough to get to know him better this time in Seoul. Sam is still going strong in the entertainment industry in Korea and is someone that a lot of people of colour in Korea look up to. I have met one or two people that want to be like him, to speak Korean as well as he does and be successful. The thing about Sam that makes him so admirable is that he is a shining example of blooming where you are planted and showing young black people that they can make it anywhere. (Ghana stand up! )
Another major key to Sam success is staying relevant. He speaks the language and works on improving his knowledge and use of Korean because he knows this is a very important factor to his success. He is also not afraid to try new things (tv shows, variety shows, dramas.. what’s next Sam?) and get that dirt off his shoulder. ( Please refer to jay Z’s Black album released 2003. You’re welcome.)
Other than being a staple on the show Abnormal summit, He has been cast in Korean dramas like Moorim School and Warm and Cozy. He has been on variety shows like Running man, Infinity challenge, Real men .. the list goes on.
Did I mention he has good taste in clothes? Brother is always on point, like.. wha…? ( like his facebook page for more.. !)
Another admirable trait about him is his ability to spend time alone, be with himself and his thoughts. this is how he is able to think through his decisions and stay grounded.But when he is out and about with his friends, he is a ball of energy, making people laugh, ready with a dance, making the ajhummas (read : banamayo, old ladies ) blush but also ready to laugh at himself. This is a big thing when you are living and working away from your home country. The ability to accept and enjoy your alone time,but also to be able to be with people and to laugh at yourself. (all my Africans in the diaspora take note!)
Back to that night.
So as he is introducing the people around the table, I catch the eye of an enigmatic creature, and I got the brown girl tingling feeling. You know the one when you see another black woman and there is just a knowing in your bones… greatness knowing greatness? (Keep your eye roll in check!) I went in directly for a kiss on the cheek dahling.This woman beautiful , and her eyes crinkled so prettily when she laughed. We connected immediately and even joked about what to order, both clearly hangry ( yes I meant to type it that way) a little afraid that it was good, but would it be too much? I shouldn’t have worried, I ate like no mans business! Anyway , her name is Telisu and boy is she talented! She is all about ART, FASHION, CULTURE, DANCE, DECOR, AND DESIGN. Caps all hers, not mine. She writes, dances, produces .. and is followed by Karl Lagerfeld on Instagram. (This is pertinent info for some of you.)
She talked freely about her journey and what she wanted to do with her time in Korea.I admired her strength, her adventurous nature and her sheer daring. She is doing something completely new and I’m here for it. Hailing from Memphis, Telisu is about that getting it done and doing it well life.Her style and aesthetic are intriguing.
I admire her bravery because she has launched a career in Kpop, which consists mainly of Koreans. Artists do work with foreign (read: non-Korean) composers , producers etc but to have a foreigner, especially a gorgeous black woman doing her thing in kpop? That’s totally new in that industry, and hard because Korea is still fairly new to dealing with people of other races. She is doing it anyway ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves’ – Beyonce ‘Freedom’.
This strong black woman out there, making waves, not asking for permission, but doing what she believes in.May she change the game. Amen.
Listen to her song below
Seemed like there were so many game changers at the table that night. We had Steve from Asian Boss who is working to educate people about differences between Asia and the West, help young Asians broaden their perspectives beyond Asian culture, and promote Asian talent to the rest of the world. Steve was a strong character, very charismatic with his direct gaze, but a very ready smile. He is very passionate about what he does, and especially why he is doing it. I was very impressed at how much he genuinely cared and I hope he continues making those ‘boss’ moves (hehehe) because the Asian narrative, just like the African one , needs to be changed. I was genuinely proud of him and could see many similarities in the African and Asian narrative and I can’t wait to see what magic Asian Boss has up its sleeve.
The food was amazing.The Boerewors succulent and juicy ( don’t you hate dry boerewors? ) The lamb exquisite, the spinach creamy.. sigh…. a feast of African splendour. A little bit of Africa in Seoul. Love it!
As the night continued we had scenes of Sam and Telisu breaking out into dance, teaching each other a thing or two… dabs included.
I happily conversations with the owner of the place and a few of the staff because brotherhood/sisterhood ‘I see you’ moments.
I wrote all this to say thank you to Sam, to Steve and to beautiful Telisu. You are making a difference in the world. We are taking notice. Believe it.
Also to the other people at the table that night, creating,speaking, photographing, singing, coding … thank you. (Another post coming soon talking about them.)
The night was great, the cake was eaten. ( you should have seen Sam’s face. I’ve never seen a man so happy to see strawberries 🙂 ) , the discussions and laughs enlightening. left me sitting at the Han river like ..