Why is May 21 commemorated as Afro-Colombian Day?

“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. My ideal is of a free and democratic society in which everyone would live in harmony and with equal opportunities”
Nelson Mandela

In our country, the Day of Afro-Colombianity was declared on May 21 by Law 725 of 2001, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in Colombia. Afro-Colombians descend from the populations of West African countries, who arrived at the beginning of the 16th century in what was called the slave trade and which lasted until well into the 18th century.

The 1991 Constitution recognizes the rights of ethnic minorities, among others, to political participation. Finally, Law 70 of 1993 would recognize the right to collective land ownership of Afro communities and the protection of their cultures.

Today the Afro-descendant population in Colombia, the third in the continent after Brazil and Haiti, has 4.6 million people, corresponds to 10% of the country’s population and is located primarily in the departments of the Pacific and Atlantic, plus Antioquia and Risaralda.

Recovering memory, making visible the contributions of Afro-Colombians to the culture of our country and recovering the silenced history are some of the purposes that support this commemoration.

During the subsequent decades, the black population has had various degrees of organization to recover their territories, face forced displacement and claim their culture, reaching today a notorious empowerment; Three of the candidates for the vice presidency of the republic are Afro: one, Luis Gilberto Murillo, was minister of the environment and another, Francia Márquez, a social leader recognized with the Goldman Prize, considered by her category as a Nobel Prize winner. In the legislative elections of March 13 of this year, a palenquera from Cartagena was elected to the Senate.

Among other strategies, it is crucial to disclose and make known characters and events in which Afro participation has been a definitive contribution to our identity. For example, the only African president that Colombia has ever had, Juan José Nieto Gil, governed in 1861 and was erased from history until little by little he began to be known in some outreach spaces until during the mandate of President Juan Manuel Santos had his portrait included in the gallery of presidents.

For his part, Benkos Bioho, who led a slave rebellion in the 17th century, was king of San Palenque de Basilio. They have begun to occupy a place in the memory of Colombians, as well as musical traditions, dances and songs where Delia Zapata Olivella, Leonor González Mina and Petrona Álvarez are figures, among many others; literature, where Manuel Zapata Olivella and Arnoldo Palacios in their novels, Candelario Obeso and Jorge Artel in their poetry captured the identity, life and suffering of this population. Likewise, the recovery of the Palenque language, one of the two Creole languages ​​that we have in Colombia.

In this way, an empowerment of the black population is observed, which has shown its talents in all areas of knowledge, not only in the artistic, but also integrating itself on a political and social footing in the nation, even in a context in which the conflict hit this population that, in many geographical points, still lives in anxiety.

We would like to give thanks to the author of this post for this amazing web content

Why is May 21 commemorated as Afro-Colombian Day?