Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | July 21, 2011

African Diaspora in Colombia Preserves its Culture

Fifity kilometers from beach-city Cartagena is the town of Palenque de San Basilio founded back in the fifteenth century by run-away slaves. Today the 4000 or so inhabitants of Palenque de San Basilio  have managed to conserve many of the Afro-Colombian traditions of their ancestors. They speak their own dialect, the lengua palenquera, which is Creole with a Spanish base, a product of the African diaspora. They observe the funeral rites known as lumbalú, which includes nine days and nine nights of chants and dances around the cadaver. Traditional healers or curanderos prescribe herbal baths and perform chanting ceremonies as a plead to ancestral gods. Music traditions include the use of drums, maracas, guarachas, and timbas.

Check out the town’s web site here.

The first slaves arrived in Colombia around the beginning of the 16th century, brought over by Spaniards who colonized the area. They were made to work the sugar plantations near the coastal areas. Groups of slaves escaped and found refuge in areas that were geographically remote like Palenque de San Basilio which has been mainly Afro-Colombian for hundreds of years.


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