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Benkos Biohó: African Maroon Leadership in New Grenada

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Chapter Summary

The history and legend of the seventeenth-century African maroon leader Benkos Biohó is among the most dramatic of the Atlantic world. Captured and enslaved along the shores of Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, Biohó was shackled and shipped to New Grenada (in present-day Colombia) in 1596. Within three years of his arrival to the port of Cartagena de Indias, the principal point of entry for Africans into colonial Spanish South America Biohó organized a slave rebellion, leading thirty men and women into the tropical forest south of the city where he formed one of the earliest maroon communities in the Americas. From the Africans' perspective Biohó's task was to ensure the security of his Palenque. Maroon leadership in New Grenada would require such action. Biohó, along with other maroon leaders of New Grenada faced the challenge of keeping disparate people together, irrespective of ethnicities.

Keywords: Atlantic world; Benkos Biohó; Maroon leadership; New Grenada; palenque; slave rebellion



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