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Finding the Gardens, Left For Us By Our Mothers

Celebrating Black American History and Women's History Months at the American University In Cairo, In the Return of Black American Maidens to Peculiar Gardens

For too long, maidens of Black America have been in search of gardens; foretold to them by their mothers.  Jazz gardens.  Blues gardens.  Gospel gardens.  The different perfumes of gardens, called Black America.  These are familiar scents; and they can be found. . .the world over!

It’s a magical perfume for Black American Her/History Month to be adjacent to Women’s Herstory Month.  A smooth transition into re-awakening the feminine, within any cultural atmosphere.

Surrounded by different seas of purple, the AUC Paradise foretells of many stories;  concerning this dynamic color.  For the maidens of Black America, the purple coloring dressing gardens, are a myriad of incomplete chapters-dressed in a hidden novel.  When Alice Walker proclaims of a “search for our mothers’ gardens,” she is painting a reality of Black American maidens, who have been removed from their cultural gardens.  Their peculiar gardens!  Reflections of their cultural art forms, have somehow been emptied of their presence.  A historical lingering, where their story was always. . .his!  The telling of Black American his/herstory, without the feminine energy and image, that birthed the gardens of Black America.

(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Semesters ago, the writer of this article, had the privilege and honor of joining a fellow maiden of her cultural garden.  Kamauria Macree, a graduate student at AUC; whose work relates to community psychology, with refugee and migrant communities (and who established such a project in Cairo, Egypt), joined me in the garden.

Not only was the moment enchanting, but it was the missing vocal; when Alice Walker describes the secret desire for Black American maidens to return to the gardens, left for them by their mothers.  Of more illumination, is that they were comforted by a sea of purple.  There was a familiarity to each other.  Deeply, it was a reminder and statement, to the AUC Paradise, of Black America’s feminine image.  Those youthful, vibrant maidens (as with any other garden), whose responsibility it is to continue their culture.  

(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Black America’s daughters (and mothers) have not only had to re-birth the culture, but re-innovate it.  Creating anew! Using their pains, joys, struggles, sufferings, and successes, as peculiar components, for the continuation of their people.  

All too often, the telling of Black American History, is simply that–HIStory.  Presented as the only man in the world, who birthed himself.  A miraculous feat!  If it were true, the world of science would have quite a study on it’s hands.  Yet, that is not the reality.  It never was.  For centuries, in US history, Black American maidens were forced out of their own gardens-only to become maids in someone else’s.  Nevertheless, maidens and mothers of these cultural gardens, continued to produce aesthetics of their peculiar womanhood.  Music, culinary, poetry, art, language, fashion, dance, and others; reflecting the culture of their femininity in these United States of America.  And through all the pain and injustice, Black America’s daughters and mothers, continued to plant the seeds for future seedlings of their garden.

(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

When Alice Walker describes this “search,” she highlights a memory; the sacred culture of Black American foremothers, who created even in their invisibility.  In her eloquent description, Walker writes in a way, where the culture is seen as a secret world.  The otherness of a world, creating American culture, in all her authenticity.  A fantastic captivation of magical realism–before the coining of the actual term.  The title of this piece of literature, provides a mystique of incompletion.  A task, needing to be done by future Black American maidens.  For the tending of the gardens, to begin again.

So, on that day, when Kamauria Macree and I sat in the garden, we symbolized a moment for Black American maidens to re-claim their place. . .as the Maidens of their gardens.  Black America’s gardens. . .that is.  Laughing, discoursing, and enjoying the company of each other-as only Maidens, do!


During the month of February (Black American Her/History Month), I returned to the garden.  Interacting with her, in the very same spaces, as Kamauria and I had done.  Re-igniting the Spirit of our Black American foremothers; and the creativity of our culture, in our gardens.  Interesting that Women’s Herstory Month is adjacent to Black American Her/History Month.  A reminder that her story, is in Black America.

(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

The pictures of Kamauria and I were lost; which means that this precious moment, will have to be re-captured.  So, as one Black American maiden, awaits for her Sister’s return; another maiden of a different garden, had entered the space.  An Egyptian-Arab maiden, was also attracted to this presence.  It’s not uncommon for maidens of different cultural gardens, to visit each other.  The world of womanhood is curious, in this regard.  She loves to witness different colors, shapes, textures, and sizes of femininity.

(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)


As a Black American and Egyptian-Arab maiden paused for a moment in the garden, a happiness was born.  The ocean of flowers proved that purple was sacred.  Smiles and laughter decorated the space.  The whispering of winds, in the restoration of broken dreams.  How beautiful it felt for beauty’s memory to enchant the feminine mind.  Laughing.  Chatting.  Smiling away.  A restoration took place.  And, it felt great   for two Maidens; cultures world’s apart; gardens close to the heart; to come together, during this sacred moment and place.

(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

While being restored in her own cultural garden, this Maiden of Egyptian-Arab scents, subconsciously came to affirm that a darker Sister, too, was woman!  Welcoming her back to those gardenal tales, where the world first began.

And so, as more Blackened flowers of American soils smell the perfumes of their gardens; one, in particular, awaits of her Sister and Spiritual twin.  Their completion to be captured in the garden, together; as was always foretold to them, by their mothers!


(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)


(Photograph Taken By Rami Ehab Mekkawy; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

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