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.
“Some people think it’s a religious holiday but it’s not. It’s a time for us to get together, families to get together, and plan,” Coleman said. “This was created so that the African-Americans could learn their history and the customs but it can be used not only by African-Americans but as families coming together taking the principles and applying them to help to make their families better, to improve their lives, their communities and even their world.”
Celebrated annually from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org states, “[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.”
In recognition of Kwanzaa, Noble Hill — a black heritage museum located at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cassville — also will offer an exhibit to introduce patrons to the principles and symbols of the holiday.
“We’ll have a display [set] up of some of the things that represent Kwanzaa that you can use during Kwanzaa, like ... a kinara, which is a candle holder that holds the seven candles,” Coleman said. “There will be green and red and one black candle, and these are to be lit each day to represent each principle. All of this is located on a mat on the table.
“We’ll have ears of corn that could represent the number of children that you have in your family. But we also know that some families don’t have children, [so] it could just be representing the children in the community if they want to recognize the children. We’ll [also] have the cup that they use for remembering the ancestors.”
During Kwanzaa, Noble Hill will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 26 to 28 and Dec. 30 and 31. There will be no admission charge.
For more information about Noble Hill’s Kwanzaa offering, call 770-382-3392.