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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Colombia's Black Slave Liberator

Benkos Biohó also known as Domingo Biohó, ancestor of the late Afro-Colombian singer, composer and drummer, Paulino Salgado Valdez, was the leader of runaway slaves Colombia during the 17th century. Said to have been born in what is now known as Guinea Bissau of Western Africa in the late 15th century, Biohó was captured by a Portuguese slave trader and sold to a Spanish businessman, then sold again to another Spaniard in 1596 in Cartagena, Colombia.

Biohó, a former African king,  escaped from the slave port of Cartagena with ten others  by boat and founded San Basilio de Palenque, the legendary village of rebel, runaways slaves in 1713. He organized a strong army pf more runaway slaves and formed an intelligence network that, eventually, the King of Spain gave up sending troops on what turned out to be useless attacks their heavily fortified mountain hideaway of rebel slaves, and San Basilio de Palenque earned their freedom from the Spanish more than 200 years before the rest of Colombia.

However, in 1619, while walking carelessly, Bioho was caught by the Spanish forces and hanged on March 16, 1621. By the end of the seventeenth century in the area of San Basilio de Palenque had over 600 black rebels, under the command of Domingo Padilla, who claimed for himself the title of captain while his wife Jane adopted that of viceroy..