Benkos Bioho, who descended from a royal West African family, was captured and enslaved by the Portuguese in the late 16th century. Yet, Bioho never accepted claims others made on his life and liberty. That is why after being sold to a Spanish enslaver and taken to South America, he escaped and ran away multiples times. During the last escape, Bioho made his way into a swampy area just southeast of modern-day Cartegena, Columbia. There, he established San Basilio de Palenque, a liberated zone known as the “village of the maroons” where Black people found refuge, and lived freely. Descendants of those maroons proudly live in Palenque today.
A monument to African strength, courage, and persistence—San Basilio de Palenque was designated a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005. Its residents are custodians of a rich lineage and enduring language that honors their African ancestry.
Click here to learn more about Benkos Bioho and the no-matter-what African legacy he sowed in Columbia. Be informed by an indomitable lineage.
BONUS: Click here to watch present-day citizens of San Basilio de Palenque sing and profess their historical pride.