In San Basilio de Palenque, Bolivar department, Colombia, there are two reasons for pride: Kid Pembele, a boxing star of the 1970s, and the history of the village. It was founded in the 17th century by the first community of fugitive black slaves. Many Palenqueros now live in Barranquilla or Cartagena, the biggest cities in the Caribbean, looking for opportunities. In the crumbling neighbourhoods of La Manga, Nueva Colombia or Las Nieves, every weekend people gather in the verbenas to have fun, drink beer and rum. There they listen to African music, dancing to the sound of the Champeta. People meet around the totemic figure of the Pico, a monumental and thundering soundsystem, whose names and decorations evoke figures of power. In this way, the Picos are like symbols of the Afro-Caribbean counter-culture.

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