The African diaspora in Colombia is the third largest after Brazil and the United States, with more than 12 million Afro-descendants, making up just over 26% of the total Colombian population. The first colonial-free city in South America was Palenque in Colombia, founded by slaves fleeing the conquistadors and the first “latino” revolutionary was the Afro-Colombian king Benkos Biojó. Nowadays, Palenque can be a touch too ” touristy”, although if you’re looking you can find some spectacular experiences there too. It’s worth visiting other towns in the same area, such as Gamero, where a large proportion of the few thousand inhabitants are musicians (the most famous of whom, the Grammy award-winning Magín Díaz, is sadly deceased) and happy to show off their skills.

It is impossible to overestimate the influence of Africa on Colombian culture. Interestingly, thanks to the omnipotent grip of globalisation, its resonance even reaches to Europe – apparently many people have heard the reggaeton. This style has its roots in the cumbia – the rhythm born of the water and land, the Magdalena River and shores of the Caribbean, the co-creation of Africans and Indigenous.

Cumbia is one of the many cross-musical cultural phenomenas that is expressed at the annual carnival of Barranquilla, the biggest party this side of the equator. Worth to mention that the European contribution is also apparent: look at the costumes!

In fact, the party is more of a by-product of the carnival. For the more than a thousand communities that take part in it, the carnival is first and foremost an opportunity to show off their customs, dances, music and costumes. There are two parades: one for commercial purposes, charged to the public seated in the grandstands … and the other open to all, tens of kilometres long, starting in the morning and ending in the evening.

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