Created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is a time in which the African community throughout the world reflects on their culture, family and history and sets goals for the future. By applying principles -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith -- to their lives, the participants work toward bettering their lives and strengthening ties with their family and community.
"If anybody's interested in doing Kwanzaa, we have information about the principles," said Marian Coleman, curator for Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, a black cultural museum at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cassville that reveals what life was like for black residents during the late 1800s to mid-1900s through donated items, like photographs, and hairstyling and cooking utensils. "We have information on the board. We have a table decorated to show people how they could decorate. ... On display, we will have a kinara, which would be the candleholder. And the candleholder has seven candles in it, the red and the green and the one black that represent each of the principles and this is to be lit each day that you celebrate it. Each one of the principles is celebrated on each day. When you begin your program you always light the candle that represents that principle and you explain what the principle is and how you plan to carry out that principle during the year.
"With the new year coming in, these principles would be something that the whole family could get together and plan how they were going to carry each of these principles out during the year to make their lives better, to make the community better, to unify the family, to strengthen the family. The main purpose is to unify the family, for them to get closer together during the year and to plan on how they can better themselves and better the community where they live."
Celebrated annually from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org said, "[Kwanzaa's] origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name ... Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African 'first fruit' celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration.
"Kwanzaa, then, is:
* a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;
* a time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;
* a time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;
* a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and
* a time for celebration of the Good, the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, natural and social."
For more information about the Noble Hill exhibit, call 770-382-3392. Due to the holidays, the cultural center only will be open next week from Tuesday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.