Today, Airen, a Colombian of African descent came to school to tell us about his history:
There was a Catholic king who came to South America after it was discovered by the Spanish. He hated seeing the indigenous people being tortured so he had a bad idea. He said, “So that the indigenous people don’t have to work, why don’t we bring Africans?”
The Spanish thought this was a good idea so they started bringing Africans to South America to be slaves. To get the Africans, the Spaniards would go to a kingdom in Africa and say to the king, “If you don’t give us 50 of your people, we will take you.”
During the trip to South America, some of the Africans pushed their tongues into their throats so that they could choke and die. They thought that if they died during the trip, their souls would go back to Africa.
Life for slaves in Colombia was awful. They had to work very hard and they were severely punished for their mistakes. For example, if a slave burned her master’s dinner, the master could cut off a slave’s body part or hurt somebody in her family or even kill her.
Colombian slaves were freed on May 22, 1851. After freeing the slaves, the Spanish tricked their leader, Benkos Bioho, to go to Cartagena to have dinner with them. When he got there, the Spaniards captured Benkos Bioho and hung him. They thought that by killing him, they had finished with his ideas of rights for the former slaves but instead they created more people who wanted to fight for the same ideals.
Once the Spanish freed the slaves, they gave them a place to live near Baranquilla. They decided to call this place Palenque de San Basilio. One of the laws there is that there can only be statues of Benkos Bioho in Palenque. They also have 4 festivals each year in this town.
Each year on May 22nd, there are celebrations throughout Colombia to honor Afro Colombians. On this day, there are celebrations throughout Colombia. People play African songs, recite African poems and do other things to thank them. On this day you are supposed to treat Afro Colombians better than usual but I think we should treat black people nice every day.