mardi 15 novembre 2011

The Palenque of San Basilio, a symbol of African freedom in Colombia.

In 2011, palanqueros have not forgotten their roots, Guinea-Bissau, Congo, Senegal and Nigeria.
Today there are 3,500 descendants of  37 slaves who fought for their freedom as expressed in the giant statue with broken chains which occupies the center of the village.
         When they wiggle to the beat of the drum, they dance in the blood as their African cousins. Their "Creole", a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, German and Kimbundu seasoned with Kikongo proves their daily struggle for survival of their culture.
Today they are not respected for by their material wealth but to have maintained against winds and tides their ancestral culture. They have experienced racism, humiliation and rejection of other Colombians Latinized, when they attempted to leave the Palenque San Basilio looking for a better life in other Colombian cities.
"They laughed at the way we speak. They said that the Negroes as we were not even able to work in their fields. " Says Concepcion Hernandez, lying on a rocking chair on the threshold of his house to the roof of palm leaves.
"When they returned to the village, the parents told their children that they should not  speak palenquero, but Spanish," says Cáceres in Solbay palenquero.
Ironically, it's a handful of intellectuals from the village out of the Universities of Colombia, inspired by the civil rights movement in the United States who have become aware of the gradual disappearance of their culture. So they wrote a dictionary palenquero and delivered courses for ethnic education to preserve their culture.
"We must prepare young people who will leave the village not to become enemies of their own culture," said Manuel.
"We must talk about what Blacks have brought to this country, says Professor Rodrigo Miranda. Talking about Simon Bolivar? Yes, of course, but also Benkos Biohó, the founder of Palenque de San Basilio."
         Since 1993, a Colombian law recognizes rights to specific communities of African descent.
In 2008, Palenque de San Basilio has filed an application with the state to become the owner of 7,300 acres that make up the village, to obtain a range equivalent to that enjoyed by the indigenous communities.

Bioho Benkos, alias Domingo, founder of Palenque of San Basilio, Colombia.

The son of an African king born in the late fifteenth century in the region of Bioho in Guinea-Bissau. Very young, he is kidnapped by the Portuguese Pedro Gomez Reynel, and sold to slave merchant  Juan Palacios. In 1596, he is sold once again as a slave to the Spanish Alonso del Campo in Cartagena de Indias.
With ten other African slaves, he escapes from Cartagena and founded the community of Chestnut of San Basilio de Palenque, "the legendary village of the Cimarron".
         In 1713, it became "the first village free of the Americas", when the King of Spain renounces send troops in futile missions to attack their fortified refuge in the mountains.
He goes down the Magdalena River by boat to escape his pursuers. Unfortunately, he is resumed in 1599 in the southeast of the wetland Cartagena.
He organized an army of slaves with men from the Montes de Maria and creates an intelligence service that allowed the fall of the city of Cartagena. Dubbed the king of handguns, he organized the escape of slaves to free territory. He was appointed king of handguns.
On July 18, 1605, unable to defeat the Maroons, the governor of Cartagena, Geronimo de Suso y Casasola, agrees to sign a peace treaty with Benkos Bioho, recognizing the autonomy of Bioho Matuna Palenque.
But this peace will be effective in 1621 under the governorship of Fernandez de Velasco because the treaty had been violated by the Spanish in 1619. Bioho Benkos was captured by Spanish guards during a walk and quartered 16 March 1621 under the orders of Governor Garcia Giron.
At the end of the sixteenth century, the region of Montes de Maria was populated by 600 Maroons, under the command of Domingo Padilla, wearing the title of Captain and his wife Jane, simply referred to the viceroy.
In 1713, by Royal Decree of His Majesty the King of Spain, Palenque (fortified village inhabited by runaway slaves). The Palenquero spoken by Palenqueros is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, German and Bantu languages ​​such as Kikongo and Kimbundu.
Palenque became the first free people of America.
         Its population was composed of former slaves from Guinea-Bissau, Congo, Senegal and Nigeria. El Palenque de San Basilio was declared in 2005 as "a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.

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