By Daniel Winner | AC JosepH Media Correspondent
ATLANTIC CITY — Habari gani?
The seventh and final day of Kwanzaa is here and we are celebrating the virtue Imani, which means “Faith.” It is through Imani that we are “to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”
As a secular humanist, Dr. Maulana Karenga originally had reservations about the role of religious faith in Kwanzaa celebrations. He later relaxed his position on such traditions, writing in his book “Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture,” that the winter holiday “was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday.”
Indeed, many families today who celebrate Kwanzaa do so with an understanding that it is not a substitute holiday, but a complementary celebration of their spiritual heritage. African American culture includes a great diversity of spiritual faiths, including Christianity, Islam, Louisiana Voodoo, Hoodoo, Rastafari, among others. All are welcome to observe Kwanzaa in our respective ways, with respect for the wisdom of our ancestral heritage.
But faith is not limited to our respective beliefs and customs. Imani also provides us with a sense of “confidence.” It lies with our communities and the ways in which African Americans have triumphed in American culture. Friends, family, teachers, and leaders all require faith not only in themselves, but in others so as to strengthen bonds and continue working for posterity.
Poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “While the first principle of Umoja brings us closer and harnesses our strength, the last principle, Imani, inspires us and sustains our togetherness. Let us have faith in ourselves, in our creator, in our mothers and fathers, in our grandmothers and grandfathers, in our elders, and in our future — knowing that we are more than keepers of our brothers and sisters, we are our brothers and sisters.”
Imani sustains our unity. It bestows on us and our communities hope that situations can change for the better, and it most certainly will so long as we adhere to virtuous principles and have faith in not only each other, but also in what is “good, right, and beautiful.”
We light the final green candle in faith that our communities will overcome any and all challenges. The kinara is fully lit and the light of tradition leads us into 2024 with the conviction that great progress can still be achieved. Front Runner New Jersey wishes a Happy New Year to all its readers. May blessings and prosperity be upon each and every one. May we all win in our struggle for peace, freedom, and justice. Heri za Kwanzaa (Happy Kwanzaa)!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel Winner has a double major in Religious Studies and Japanese from Penn State University and has traveled internationally to the Far East on several occasions. His insights on Buddhism and Asian culture give a unique view of historical and modern trends. He will be serving as a contributor for Front Runner New Jersey.
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