chapter  9
16 Pages

Identity and the mirage of ethnicity: Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua’s journey in the Americas

This chapter examines Bantu remnants found in the maroon village of El Palenque de San Basilio. It focuses on the special impact that Bakongo slaves speakers of Kikongo must have had in the formation of Palenquero culture and language. The chapter presents the evidence from a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, oral literature, archaeology, and anthropology. The pioneers of Palenquero studies all correctly argued that the early Palenqueros came mainly from Angola and the Congo. This is the area of Central Africa from where the majority of slaves were exported during the early phase of the Cartagena slave trade. Linguistic evidence for Palenque's Bantu and, more specifically, Kikongo heritage seems scant at first, which is why it has historically been underestimated. There are several reasons for this; first, even though the Palenqueros have preserved an ancestral ritual code, this type of speech is not composed of one or several African languages.