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Africa in Colombia

San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia

“Founded by escaped slaves, it has produced great musicians and athletes: Palenque, located in northern Colombia, is finding a place in the public consciousness after many years of being forgotten.

The mototaxis are waiting at the entrance to the town . As soon as we got off the bus, we are each sitting on a motorbike behind our drivers, who are transporting us to the village, partly over fresh asphalt, partly through dust, stones and potholes. After 5 kilometers we reach the main square. A white church, a grocery store and a kiosk surround a few bench seats under a large tree. Hardly anyone can be seen in the midday heat. Only the statue of an enslaved African who is about to break his chains stretches his arm towards the sky. San Basilio de Palenque, which is called "Palenque" for short by its approximately 3,500 inhabitants, is considered the oldest free village in South America: In 1713, the runaway slaves from various African countries who had settled in the hilly hinterland of Cartagena in northern Colombia were settled , granted freedom by the Spanish crown. Today their descendants live here and keep the centuries-old traditions alive. That was not always so. Decades of outside discrimination meant that many Palenqueros themselves no longer believed in the value of their own culture and attempted to assimilate to the majority of the Spanish-speaking Colombian population. It was not until the 1980s that the initiative of a group of committed students led to an improvement in attitudes towards their own origins. Since the Palenque cultural area was included in the UNESCO World List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005, not only has the government invested in the village's water and electricity supply, but the number of visitors has also increased.” (Laura Haber- Copyright: Goethe-Institut Colombia March 2015)


  1. Palenqueros are First free Africans in the Americas living in Palenque, the first free settlement

  2. Unesco- Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity

  3. Founded by Benkos Biohos, a former African King

  4. Speak palenquero- Spanish/Banku language

  5. Practice African funeral tradition called - Lumbalu

  6. Birthplace of CHAMPETA MUSIC

  7. Birthplace of KOMBILESA MI- popular Colombian rap group

  8. Festival of Drums and Cultural Expression- Colombian important heritage festival

  9. Palenqueras con from San Basilio

  10. Birthplace of boxer Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes

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