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A Music Studio Thrives In The First Free Slave Town Of The Americas

Follow Bomba Estéreo's Simón Mejía to San Basilio de Palenque's first and only music studio.

San Basilio de Palenque is a small town on Colombia's Caribbean coast that's nicknamed "the first free town of the Americas." This is because, in the early 17th century, African slaves that had been kidnapped from their homelands and brought to the nearby port of Cartagena escaped and founded "palenques" (simple settlements, fenced-off with sticks, or "palos" in Spanish) in the mountains now known as Montes de María, where they could live free.

There, they created a mix of the various African cultures and languages that they brought with them, that survives to this day. Palenqueros, as their inhabitants are called, have not only a special language, (Ri Palenge, which is a Spanish, Portuguese and Bantu pidgin), a special type of music (heavily infused with African percussion), and a special identity in the Colombian census. They also share a special history.

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