Focus on the african dispora in pre coloniale time ?

May 2019
We share here every known fact about African diaspora before the colonial era mostly. Don't hesitate to participate.
I will begin with the most fascinating one for me : Yasuke the first ever known foreigner samurai in Japan history.
I will put what I know about him correct me if you have further information.
There is no clear evidence of Yasuke origin, some say that he was mozambican or East African : Dinka cause he was pretty black or some other group of population in those areas.
There is many French article saying that he was from Mozambique island, and belong to the Makua ethny. He was born between 1530 and 1540. He was captured in this version as slave at a very young age.
He was brought by Portuguese missionaries at Gao in India. He was assigned to bought them water.
The Jesuit Alessandro Valignano take him the 6 September 1574 as bodyguard for his trip to Japan (the guy seems to looked pretty scary/fascinating for the standard people of Asia at that time : dark, tall and well build. Personal adding.)
During a travel on the 20 of September 1577 they made escal at Malacca(Malaisia) and Macao(China) and arrive the 25 of July 1579 at Arima (Kyushu's island).
The 8 March 1581 Yasuke and Valignano leave Kyushu for Kyoto, where Oda Nobunaga was the Lord. He is fascinating by Yasuke and ask the Jesuit to let him there.
He thought that Yasuke had ink or paint on his skin so he ask his servant to try to clean it. When he realized that he was naturally black he was more interested. He affectioned him and name him Yasuke. They are many hypothesis about why, I will talk about it maybe at the end, it's link to his birth name but since we clearly dont know where he come from exactly its just speculation.
So Yasuke became very close to the Lord Oda nobunaga, it says in the article, that nobunaga was impressed by his intelligence, his physical abilities and his capacity to adapt to Japanese culture. The evidence seems to show that Yasuke was speaking Japanese for two main reasons :
- there were only three languages that he and Nobunaga could use : Portuguese but since there is no evidence that nobunaga ever spoke it it unlikely that they communicate in Portuguese. Second is classical Chinese which was the lingua franca for this region and i think that the Japanese elite mastered it, but it unlikely that Yasuke had the time to learn it. So the most plausible is Japanese.
He like "exotism" and make Yasuke a phenomenon in his court. He make him a samurai, give him property and his adoptive daughter as wife. It says that he passes a short samourai ceremony. He was his personal bodyguard and it's also say that Yasuke was bearing his spear and ride next him which is a honour for a samurai. He also become his adviser.
Yasuke participate to battles don't forget it's sengoku jidai time.
In 1582 Oda nobunaga with some of his men retire to a temple at Kyoto, he is betrayed and attacked by one of his lieutenant name Akechi Mitsuhide. Yasuke was with him which maybe demonstrate that he was trusted by Oda Nobunaga. After that attack Nobunaga commit seppuku. Yasuke escape and join his son Oda nobutada who was preparing to fight the felon. He join them and they fought Mitsuhide and lost. Yasuke was captured. It says that Mitsuhide affirm that since he wasn't a human he shall not be killed. Some say that version is maybe not true or unlikely. But the official says that he wasn't willing to create problem with Portuguese and didn't want to kill someone related to them. Anyways after that they send him back to the jesuit we don't have any trace of Yasuke since that event.

In French sorry
Yasuke: le premier samouraï étranger était africain

La légende retrouvée de Yasuke, le premier samouraï noir du Japon

  • Serge Bilé, Yasuke: le samouraï noir, Owen Publishing 2018
Also to put a bit of context it says that Oda Nobunaga was very uncommon for a Japanese Lord for that time, they called him the clown of Owari (his original province)
He didn't always care about the tradition and was pretty open. He put people who wasn't of noble descent in position of power. He judge merit most of the time. One of his mentor commit seppuku after his dad death due to Nobunaga behavior. Like he didn't respect the tradition during the funeral ceremony.

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