DID YOU KNOW CORNROWS WERE USED AS MAPS FOR ESCAPED SLAVES
San Basilio de Palenque is a village in Northern Colombia about 50 miles East of Cartagena with a population of around 3,500 people.
San Basilio de Palenque is one of several walled cities that were started by escaped slaves in the 17th century. The city was set up as a refuge for escaped slaves by escaped slave Benkos Bioho, it is also the only city that has survived and is still inhabited today.
The people who live here now are mainly Afro-Colombians which are direct descendants of African slaves brought by the Spanish during the Colonization of the Americas.
Benkos Bioho was born in Africa and claimed to have been a king there. Captured in Africa by the Portuguese and sold several times until being sold to a Spaniard in Cartagena. Benkos Bioho tried to escape several times before he finally succeeded.
After his escape he formed a town with other escaped slaves. There they developed their own language called Palenquero. The language is influenced by the Kikongo language of Congo and Angola and also by Portuguese.
He also formed an army and an intelligence network to help organize the escape of other slaves and to guide them to the liberated areas.
One of the things he did was have the women shape maps in their cornrows. They were also used as symbols to deliver messages. Bioho also had the women collect seeds and put them in their hair as decoration. Later the seeds would be passed on to the village so they could start to grow their own crops.
He was later called King Benkos grew his army of Maroons (African refugees who escaped slavery in the Americas and formed independent settlements). His army of Maroons started raiding Spanish plantations, farms, and ranches. King Benkos also had spies that alerted him to the movements of his enemies and because of this he was never defeated.
Unable to defeat King Benkos and the Maroons the Spanish Governor of Cartengena offered a peace treaty. The peace deal was finalized but a few years later was called off after the Spanish discovered a plot King Benkos was organizing against them.