Pretty Birds!

I am so excited to bring you Issue #11. It’s been an exciting 11 months for our team, and we’ve been thrilled to share these compelling voices and fresh content with each instalment. Every encounter is an opportunity to learn, and I hope that our conversations encourage you to consider the multiple layers of each culture and individual you come across. With this edition, we enjoy multigenerational conversations with two women who are using their respective mediums to create nurturing spaces for their community and thoughtfully inspire cultural empowerment. 

Perhaps you’ve come across the iconic image of singer-producer Adì Oasis’ crown as captured by the photographer Micaiah Carter. Her hair is adorned with the colourful barrettes that many of us wore as little girls, and the vibrant, joy of the image immediately transports the viewer to carefree moments on the playground, to skipping hopscotch or synchronising agile legs to the rhythm of double dutch. It’s precisely this lighthearted nostalgia that led me to search out the identity of the graceful model who loaned her crown to this perfect images creation, and subsequently follow her journey as a singer and performer. 

Hailing from French-Caribbean origins, I knew she would bring a multifaceted perspective to Our Hair Don’t Care’s ever-expanding conversation on global beauty standards. The daughter of a Black Martinique father and white French mother, Adi’s hair experience was shaped by her paternal aunts, beloved older sister-in-law and grandmother, who was the matriarch of her family in Martinique. When she moved to the U.S. in her late teens, she faced the realities of being a young Black immigrant woman finding her way in a new country also fraught with a complex racial history. She would personally taste the bitter lack of inclusivity within the fashion industry while getting her feet wet as a model. With the launch of her latest album Lotus Glow this past March and her current global tour, Adi shares her life experiences and social commentary with honesty and vulnerability, to create a safe space where her audience can embrace the highs and lows of their own circumstances and, hopefully, emerge out of life’s adversity as she did, fully-bloomed flowers. 

I was introduced to the extraordinary host and chef, Jacqueline Greaves, who joined us for this instalment of Tamu’s Cafe, through a mutual friend living here in Italy. We spent three hours on our first tea date in Milan at Prada’s Marchesi reminiscing about our respective childhoods in Jamaica and our experiences as Caribbean women who have both lived in New York and spent a great part of our lives in Italy. I joined Jacqueline again when she returned a few months later and hosted a Jamaican-themed dinner at her daughter and my friend Caterina’s home. Smitten with Jacquie’s charm from our first meeting, I was once again impressed by her penchant for hosting. This time I was deeply moved by the way she explained to a room of Italians how Jamaica’s beloved dish ackee and saltfish was brought to Jamaica by slaves from West Africa. She was confident and full of pride while describing how this humble dish became a culinary delicacy on our island. Her sentiments and the food we shared travelled deep through my belly and remain in my soul. 

For Issue 11’s Tamu’s Cafe, Jacquie and I prepared a Caribbean-inspired tiramisu recipe that she slayed at her last get together in Milan. Italians are a hard sell when it comes to their dolce, but Jacquie had this group licking the sides of their coppe. Now please join me in discovering how this delightful human mastered the art of cooking, hosting groups of up to 150 guests at her home. 

Onto our style section. This month I set off on my dream vacation to Seoul, Korea with my girl friends Wannasiri Kongman and Niki Wu Jie. As a huge fan of K-drama, I wanted to visit the country to observe whether the Netflix series I devour weekly accurately represent Korean culture. Dramas like Crash Landing On You and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim are my go-to form of entertainment after long work days, and are also perfect for weekend streaming marathons. My favourite shows are romances, and I am often sucked in by character development and the role community members play as the dramas unfold. After 10 incredible days in one of the most dynamic cities I’ve ever visited, I can truly say that the citizens of Seoul are as charming, stylish and empathetic as depicted in the various dramas. In fact  while exploring the city, my new friend Lauren who organised an entire day for the girls and myself, put a name to the Korean warmth I perceived through the series and now in real life. The concept of Jeong describes the familiarity that is unique to Koreans. Coming from a very welcoming Caribbean culture, I can’t help but to connect deeply with this aspect of Korea. I am even experiencing a sort of Seoul homesickness now that I’m back in Milan. This being the case, I’m already visualising returning there some time very soon. For now I will have to live through my memories of one of Korea’s most compelling love languages, it’s insanely yummy food. My Seoul food visual journal awaits your foodiest desires in our style section, Petty Birds.

Sarang Hae Yo,

Tamu, Moon Hee 문희 (Entrance to Happiness)