I’ll never forget the name because I’ve been mistakenly called Imani more times than I can count. In Swahili Imani means faith while my name, Amani means Peace, both traits of which are compliments whose practice build our character. On this last day of Kwanzaa thinking about the principal of faith is the perfect way to round off the celebration. Kwanzaa popularly describes Imani as, “To believe, with all our heart, in our Creator, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.” Faith is the act of believing for the best of our own and ourselves resulting in the advancement of our community as a whole.
Faith is a very important aspect of Black culture. Faith in a better future is the reason why we’re living today. During the slavery era our faith in better future regardless of the current circumstances kept us going through the unrestrained abuse. Similarly in the Segregation era, our faith in equal resources for our people fueled our fight when there were other more powerful and wealthier forces fighting against us. Today in the modern era of Western culture, having faith in each other means deciding to do whats best for one another even when it’s inconvenient. We should be living with the idea that whats best for our community is what’s best for us because its true. For example, when we decide to buy black even when a product produced by a black owned business is more expensive then we’re keeping our dollars in the community: this increases the chances of our collective survival rather than deterring them. It feels good to spend money with a business owner that looks like you, in a way it feels like keeping your money rather than spending it. When we believe in each other we’re believing in ourselves.
To believe in our Creator is another aspect of Imani, and this is to believe in the miraculous and abundant power of our creator, knowing that the Creator’s will results in the best aspect of our lives even when circumstances in their current conditions look negative. Likewise, faith in our teachers and leaders is an important aspect in believing for the best for the next generation. We need passionate and dedicated Black teachers and leaders to pour into our children in a positively impactful way. We need to support our passionate teachers because they are arguably the most important aspect of our society in creating the next round leaders of our society. Faith is the most powerful characteristic that a person can have because our faith creates our reality. When we put our faith to work behind our people and our goals then we put we put power behind them. To believe in our struggle is to be committed to the struggle, refusing to give up regardless of how difficult things get. The strength to endure the struggle builds us up as individuals and brings us together as a community, knowing that our victory is imminent as the power of our Creator is limitless.
Going into the New Year many of us have our individual resolutions and having faith is what transforms those goals from fantasy into practice. Imagine the impact of gathering as a family in order to explain the meaning of each of the 7 principals that Kwanzaa covers on each day of the celebration:
December 26 – Umoja (Unity)
December 27 – Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
December 28 – Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
December 29 – Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
December 30 – Nia (Purpose)
December 31 – Kuumba (Creativity)
January 1 – Imani (Faith)
Doing this on an annual basis gives us a chance to refresh, renew and reorient our perspectives together as a community while entering the New Year.