Did you know that Colombia has the second largest population of African descendant population in Latin America, according to Minority Rights Group International? African descendant culture is present in every major city in the country, with over 1 million living in the capital of Bogota. The coastal regions of Colombia have a range as high as 90% of African descendant cultures. Afro-Colombians are not from a single cultural complex, but the term is generally used to a category of people of African descent living throughout the regions of Colombia.
In the first decade of the 16th century, Africans had been coming with explorers to the shores of Colombia. They were being imported as slaves from the Congo, Angola, Gambia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Gunia, Sierra Leon, Senegal, and Mali to help reduce the waning population of Native Columbians. These slaves were used for various things such as farming work in sugar plantations, gold mines, cattle farms, and haciendas. These workers were considered to be essential up until about the 20th century.
It wasn’t until around 1851 that Afro-Colombians challenged the Spanish for their freedom as soon as they arrived in Colombia. Towns called palenques arose that were home to free Africans where they could live as cimarrones.
Today around 4.4 million Afro-Colombians recognize the black ancestry that they have while others do not. At the beginning of Colombia’s civil war in 1964, which ended around 2017, a peace treaty between the guerrilla faction FARC and the government was signed, but it continues to affect most of the people today.
There is a high percentage of Afro-Colombians that face extreme poverty with young people. These young people are often recruited into the FARC to try and achieve some income, often this is seen as the only way out of poverty.