Ugonna Ezuma-Igwe | Correspondent

Imani is the seventh principle of Kwanzaa. According to the Official Kwanzaa website, Imani is “to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.” I did not think this was a definition that could be universally understood; I eventually realized that that was my problem. I was trying to find one definition for a principle that was not meant to be interpreted in one manner.

I did not have a solid understanding of what Kwanzaa was or that it had principles so when I was told to write about Imani, I struggled to define what Imani was.  Through my research I was able to define Imani for myself.

To me, Imani is about finding faith in what you need. There is not a right or wrong person, place or thing that one must have faith in. Some people have faith in their family while some have faith in themselves or both. Society is continuously telling us what we have to do for ourselves and who we have to be. Imani gives us the opportunity to take back control of ourselves and what we believe.

At a predominantly white institution where African Americans are continuously overlooked, it’s hard to find spaces and communities where you feel welcomed. Imani allows for a community to have faith in you and in the greatness that you are capable of.

I realize that I struggled to define Imani because as a  Nigerian-American, I brought a different perspective to Kwanzaa that African Americans did not have. Being that I am first-generation American I am still very in touch with my roots in Africa and I felt that Kwanzaa was just another way to diminish Africa’s individuality and once again define Africa with one culture, one story and one identity. I found out there was more than I was seeing.

John Miller IV, the program coordinator at the African American Cultural Center,  described Imani as “ whatever you need to give you the hope that things will get better whether that is looking to the future … or looking to the past.” John’s response allowed me to define Imani for myself.

I believe Imani means to have faith in each other but what each individual chooses to have faith in is supposed to be defined by that individual for themselves. Having Imani is a personal experience because no one will have the same story as you. We have each had our own walks of life that have taught us different lessons and faced us with different struggles. The struggles and experiences that we face as individuals is what allows us to have our own Imani’s.

As final’s are coming up and you are filled with stress or you are overwhelmed, take a breath and remember to have Imani. People have faith in you and are rooting for your success!