Los Hijos del Rey Benkos: Afro-Colombian Appropriation of a Historic Palenquero Identity and Iits Legacy for Community Mobilization

Genesis Dieveche Francis, University of South Carolina


.This is a study of subaltern mobilization. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Afro-Colombians mobilized to defend their human rights on the basis of a palenquero identity. This afro-descendant ethnic identity is based on a collective historical memory of maroon communities, which developed during the colonial period in New Granada. This identity has historic origins and consists of three inherent rights. The first is the right to sovereignty over their communal lands. This is not sovereignty in the sense that Afro-Colombian communities wished to be recognized as independent nations, but rather it involves having autonomous control over the economic, political, social and physical activities that take place on their ancestral lands. The second facet of the palenquero identity is the right to consultation before any legislation is passed and enacted which will affect the communities land, directly and indirectly. Lastly, all Afro-Colombian communities assumed the right to regionally define and appropriate their own identity as Afro-Colombian.