Benkos Bioho

Benkos Bioho and the Cimarrones

When the Spanish began to bring slaves from Africa to Colombia, there were some who escaped and began to form free, outlaw communities. These escaped slaves were called Cimarrones, and their communities and their enclaves were known as Palenques.
Benkos (called Domingo by the Spanish) Bioho is the most famous of all Cimarrones. He arrived in Cartagena de Indias in 1599, where he became the slave of Juan Gómez. The historian Fray Pedro Simón (1574-1628) wrote Benkos Bioho’s story in his epic work. According to Simón, the mistreatment of slaves by Gómez led Bioho to rebel and flee his master taking with him his wife, three other men and three other women. He also encouraged an additional 22 slaves, owned by Juan de Palacios, to rebel and flee with them. The group of 30 headed out into the swamps and camped near the village of Tolú — around 50 miles away.

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