Gerard Davis at his home in East New York. Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

Imani (faith) is the seventh and final principle of Kwanzaa, observed on Friday, January 1.

On the seventh and last day of Kwanzaa, the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red, the utmost right green, the next red candle, the second green candle at the right-hand side of the black candle, the final red, then the last and final green candle.

Imani is the profound belief in and commitment to all that is of value to us as a family, community, people and culture.

In the context of African spirituality, it begins with a belief in the Creator and in the positiveness of the creation and logically leads to a belief in the essential goodness and possibility of the human personality. For in all African spiritual traditions from Egypt on, it is taught that we are in the image of the Creator and thus capable of ultimate righteousness and creativity through self-mastery and development. Therefore, a faith in ourselves is key here: Faith in our capacity as humans to live righteously, self-correct, support, care for and be responsible for each other, and eventually create the just and good society.

Frantz Fanon said we must invent, innovate, reach inside ourselves and dare “set afoot a new man and woman.” The world and our people are waiting for something new, more beautiful and beneficial from us than what a past of oppression has offered.

It is in this context that we can surely speak our own special truth to the world and make our own unique contribution to the forward flow of human history.

Imani: “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.”

Read this story on BK Reader about how faith helped East New York resident Gerard Davis reach his 100th birthday in 2020, and how it motivates all the work he does.

Let’s begin to think of ways we can harness our faith to build Imani in our community!

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  1. I guess the Jews stole the menorah from Ron Karenga, who dreamed up Kwanzaa in 1969! Karenga was convicted and jailed for torturing women, Not just women, but BLACK women. And yet people pay homage to him by celebrating the holiday he cooked up. But those same people, who love Karenga, the torturer of black women, suddenly want to tear down the statues of Columbus, who also brutalized people. Hmmm I wonder why.

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