Travel Through Music: Afro Columbia
Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Hola! When I started these playlist, I didn't know how much music would teach me about the countries I've been journeying through. This is especially true for Columbia. The music actually taught me something that I feel like should be an important part of world history. I am realizing so many gems are missing about the world when it comes to the history you learn in American schools. So let's dive in!
A BIT OF HISTORY: San Basilio de Palenque
San Basilio de Palenque is the first free town in the Americas. With about 4,000 people in the population, this village is one of the most important places when you talk about freedom and revolution in the time of slavery and colonialism. In 2005, UNESCO-declared ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’
A man, Benkos Bioho, was a king from Guinea- Bissau before he was enslaved to Colombia in 1599. Once in Cartagena, he started paving the way to revolution. Communicating through songs and braiding maps into woman's hair. Benkos then founded an army and protected his stronghold in San Basilio. Each time the Spaniards tried to attack them, they were ready. All the while also helping many escaped slaves come to Palenque. By 1603, when the Spaniards decided to let them just be, Palenque's inhabitants had kept their African traditions and developed a unique language called palenquero.
Unfortunately, Bioho Benkos met his end the most tragic of ways. He was captured and hanged as a way to try and intimidate and take a way Palenque's king. His murder broke the treaty made to establish peace and now is immortalized as the beginning of distrust with Colombia's Government when it comes to its people.
You can read more about Benkos Bioho and Colombia through these books :
Playlist : Making the playlist!
You can listen here
After reading so much of Colombia's African history I definitely wanted to dive into it. To be honest the only Colombian music I've actually listened to (don't judge me lol), was from Shakira and Juanes.
I knew when you guys picked this country , I had to do better so I literally went all in this week. I was researching things like "palenquero music,""champeta," and "Afro-Colombian musicians." Luckily there where other bloggers and music journalist who were on my save wavelength but we all got to do better. When I say other writers..... I mean legit two people were curious about Afro- Colombian musicians and what they had to offer.
For me, it's sad that happens to be the case. For a Country to have such a big historical landmark event and most people not know is crazy.
To put it into a deeper perspective:
Haiti was the first black nation to get independence in 1804 (some people unfortunately don't know that fact...but) here we have Colombia at the end of the 1600's, having the first freetown for escaped Africans and most people don't even acknowledge that or even know unless they are Colombian or have traveled to Colombia.
It brings to question why the powers that be don't teach us that or why we still, in 2020 haven't fought harder for more inclusivity in whats being taught in the schools about black revolutions and victories. This whole playlist has made me ask questions about history, or rather the unlearned history in todays world.
But anyways....... (we can talk about that in the comments) Let's get through this playlist.
The Music of Afro- Columbia is unique as you hear africa with reggae with Champeta, all the while diving into Congolese Soukous, hip hop and the various unique Colombia instruments, Tambor alegre drum and Marimbula.
One of the main groups that came up as a " You must listen to" is Kombilesa Mi, a hip hop group thats actually from San Basilio de Palenque who is keeping the culture alive through music. They actually mix Palenquero with Spanish. This unique group is made up of musicians, singers and rapers and they made it their mission to keep and share their almost forgotten language alive. I personally love it and respect it and hope more groups like theirs branch out and become successful. Even though I could kinda pull out a few of the things they were saying, I realized shortly that I understood without knowledge of Palenquero. Their songs were about African pride, resilience, storytelling, as well as what is going on in their town. It's honestly truly beautiful when you listen along with their music videos :) Also The Fashion is such an honor to africa. Respect!
One person I didn't realize I knew from Colombia was Joe Arroyo. Arroyo is considered to be one of the greatest Caribbean artist in Colombia. I personally knew him through listening to Celia Cruz but I actually realize I grew up listening to him in the bronx bodegas. Imagine my shock looking up all this music, then hearing La Rebelion and being like "I KNOW THIS!!!!!!" The way I got so happy and started reminiscing of my childhood days going to my neighborhood bodega to pick something up and would just start and entire salsa party in their with my 99cent Arizona and lunchables lmao. Those were the days man! Joe Arroyo is indeed as legendary as they say. One Of my fav Salsa kings.
Now ChocQuibTown was definitely the most current person on my playlist in terms of like reggaeton. Like I truly love them! MUCHO LIT! As I like to say.
Fresa is a whole entire bop. I've had this song on replay since discovering it! If this wasn't a hit in Colombia, it should be because the beat is doing it for me with the little guitar in the background just slightly in the back of the production and then they have this line ( these are those times I would do a podcast because I would sing it) but it comes in the chorus and then the whole percussion thats added and brought to the front in pre-choruses and chorus. I honestly love the production in this song.
Humano is their recent song which brings in a little bit of hip hop as well as a touch of
the african clave beat so its kinda like afrobeat but not. I can get with it! Its the perfect song in the time of all the Black Lives Protest happening now.“I’m a warrior who doesn’t give up/That always walks firm,” sings Goyo. “What you say does not define me.”
And with that I think this is the perfect way to end this blog! Afro Colombia revealed itself to me and I for one now Know I have to put Colombia on my Travel list. Click Here for my Pinterest Board for Colombia with all my Links and Travel tours! I can actually promise you it is being added to every day because i'm actually determined to go!
Wow what a trip right?
Next up is Ivory Coast!
Passport Stamps Here we go!