By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Yasuke is believed by some scholars to of come from the Yao people of modern-day Mozambique. Therefore some believe his name Yasuke derived from “Yao-Suke”, suke being a Japanese suffix added to a male name, so Yasuke most likely meant a man of Yao origin. There are varying accounts saying he could of been Ethiopian, or Sudanses, but no one knows for sure.
ARRIVAL IN JAPAN
It is documented that when Yasuke arrived in Japan in 1579, he was in the service of an Italian Jesuit Missionary named, Alessandro Valignano, who was appointed by the society of Jesus (Jesuits), to inspect their missions in East Africa, South and East Asia. For the Japanese who encountered him, it would of been their first time seeing a Black man. The Jesuits later reported when Yauke was taken to Oda Nobunaga, head of the powerful Oda clan (a man some scholars of Japanese history credit as being one of the first unifers of Japan), the Daimyo (feudal lord) thought that Yasuke had been painted with black ink and ordered Yasuke to remove his clothes from the waist up and demanded he scrub his skin to attempt to remove what he assumed was black ink painted on his skin. Reportedly when Nobunaga realized that Yasuke was not wearing ink, but instead was a Black man, he became fascinted with the African, and praised him for his strength and demeanor. It has been written that Nobunaga’s nephew gave Yasuke some money after their first meeting to help him on his journey.
On May 1581, Yasuke left for a trip with some other Christians to go to the Echizen province. There they would meet with regional warlords Shibata Katsuie,Hashiba Hidekatsu and Hashiba Hidekatsu. When Yasuke and his fellow Christian missionaries returned to Kyoto (the former capitol of Japan) on May 30, at some point afterwards Yasuke entered into the service of Nobunaga. Nobunaga would also give Yasuke his own residence , a ceremonial katana and would make him his weapons bearer. In the Battle of Tenmokuzan, Nobunaga led his forces (which included Yasuke) into armed conflict and ultimately victory against the Takeda clan. On June 1582, Nobunaga was attacked by the army of Akechi Mitsuhide. Yasuke was present at the time of the attack and he fought with valor against Akechi’s forces, but ultimately Nobunaga forces would be overwhelmed and Nobunaga would be forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). After the death of Nobunaga, Yasuke visited Nobunaga’s son and heir apparent Oda Nobutada, who at the time was in the process of rallying forces at Nijo castle. Yasuke fought bravely alongside Nobutada’s forces, but was ulimately captured. When Yasuke was brought to Akechi, the warlord reportedly made racist comments about Yasuke being an animal and not Japanese, therefore he stated that Yasuke shouldn’t be killed, but rather taken to the Christian church in Kyoto. His ultimate fate is unknown and there is no more written about him after this time. Some people believe he may of returned to working for the Catholic Church, or contracted his services to other warlords.
Black History Spotlight: Toussaint Louverture
By:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Toussaint Louverture is believed to of been born on the Breda Plantation at Haut de Cap in Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti). The date of his birth is unknown, some say he could of been born on May 20, 1743 other accounts say he was most likeley born on November 1 (All Saints Day). Not much is known about his parents, but biographer John Beard’s historical narrative on Louverture, claims that his grandfather was a man named Gaou Guinou, who was a son of the King of the kingdom of Allada (also known as the kingdom of Ardra). It was a West African kingdom on the Coast of southern Benin. Louverture according
to some accounts was well-educated by his godfather, who was a man named Pierre Baptiste, who was a free-person-of-color (a mixed race person with African ancestry). Some historians believe that his letters reveal that he was well-versed in the languages of French and Creole, and was knowledgeable on the writings of political strategist Machiavelli and stoic philosopher Epictetus. There is also reason to believe he may of received additional education in Catholic schools, thought by Jesuit missionaries. The medical knowledge he acquired is believed to of been a combination of traditional African medicine, combined with techniques that were commonly used by Jesuit hospitals.
Later in Life
In 1782, Louverture is believed to of married a woman named Suzanne Simone Baptiste, who is believed to of been the daughter of his godfather. Reportedly, Louverture claimed he fathered 16 children, but at the time of his death only three children had outlived him.
“I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man”
Some records indicate that Louverture probably received his freedom around 1776 and was probably around 33-years-old. Up until the start of the revolution, Louverture is believed to of been a salaried employee of the Breda Plantation and mostly performed duties such as coachman, overseer, slavedriver and looked after the plantation’s livestock. As a free man Louverture started to amass a small fortune of money and property, some accounts say he rented a small coffee plantation, and owned several of his own slaves.
A Revolutionary Life
In 1789, the Free People of Saint-Domingue, inspired by the French Revolution, desired to increase their rights in the French colony, while at the same time desiring to keep the blacks on the slave colony stripped of any such rights. On August of 1797, a vodoo ceremony at Bois Caiman officially started the slave rebellion in the north of the colony, which held the most black people in forced bondage. According to some scholars, Louverture would not join the revolution until a few weeks into it.He would first send his family to the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). He would then join the forces of Georges Biassou as a physician to Biassou’s troops. Some records reveal that Louverture was part of the group’s leadership, and was involved in strategy and negotiated with the Spanish for supplies. He would train his men in guerrilla warfare and the European style of war at the time.
On August 29 1793, he gave his famous declaration of Camp Turrel to the Blacks of St.Domingue:
Brothers and friends, I am Toussaint Louverture; perhaps my name has made itself known to you. I have undertaken vengeance. I want liberty and equality to reign in St.Domingue, I am working to make that happen. Unite yourselves to us, brothers and fight with us for the same cause.
Your very humble and obedient servant, Toussaint Louverture,
General of the armies of the king, for the public good.”
On February 4 1794, the revolutionary government of France proclaimed the abolition of slavery. This came after months of Louverture having diplomatic talks with French general Etienne Maynaud de Bizefranc de Laveaux. This decision would be one of the main reasons that convinced Louverture (who was having issues with the Spanish), to switch his allegiance from the Spanish to the French. He would rally his troops to battle with Laveaux against the Spanish. This decision would cause some of his former allies to turn against him, also now being a French commander, he was now in armed-conflict with the British empire, whose troops landed on the coast of Saint-Domingue in September of that year. In 1798, Louverture was in total command in Saint-Domingue, with the exception of a semi-independent state in the south, which was controlled by general Andre Riguad, a free man of color, who rejected the authority of Louverture. Louverture still continued to fight the British, but on April 30 1798, he signed a treaty with British general, Thomas Maitland. Exchanging withdrawal of British troops for the release and amnesty of French counter-revolutionaries in the area. On August 31, Louverture and Maitland signed another treaty which ended the British blockade on Saint-Domingue, in exchange for a promise that Louverture would not export his black revolution to the British slave colony of Jamaica (which was a major suger producer at the time). The tension between the black Louverture and his Mulatto rival, Riguad began to intensify, eventually leading to a civil war famously-known as the “War of Knives” it lasted about a year. The defeated Riguad would flee to the French overseas region of Guadeloupe.
During the Saint-Domingue civil war, Napoleon Bonaparte took power in France and passed new laws for its French colonies (which still included Saint-Domingue). Louverture thought this could mean a return of slavery, but Bonaparte let Louverture believe that wasn’t the case, but he did not want Louverture and Saint-Domingue to attack Spanish Santo Domingo, a decision that Louverture knew could place in a major defensive position from possible attackers (which could include the French). In January 1801, Louverture against the wishes of Napoleon, invaded Santo Domingo, capturing the governor, Don Garcia, bringing Santo Domingo under French law, which abolished slavey in the region. As the leader of the entire island of Hispaniola, he began to modernize Santo Domingo, which was less developed than its French speaking counter-part. On July 7 1801, he established his authority over the island by having a new constitution created, which named him Governor-General for life, with almost absolute power. Louverture still shied away from officially declaring independence form France, partly because he saw himself as a black Frenchman and partly because he didn’t want to battle France again and possibly lose and have them return slavery to the island. Nonetheless, Bonaparte would eventually send 20,000 French troops to restore French authority and if possible restore slavery. Bonaparte’s troops were under the control of his brother-in-law Charles Emmanuel Leclerc, who had orders to deport all the black officers and to recapture the entire island colony, under diplomatic means if possible. When peaceful negotiations brokedown, both sides started to shoot it out, fighting would last for a few months. Eventually, Louverture would be arrested, deported and imprisoned in France. On April 7, 1803, Louverture would die, some suggest he could of died of malnutrition and or pneumonia.
In his absence Jean-Jacques Dessalines would lead the H revolution, until it was victorious over the French in 1804 and the nation of Haiti was born.
BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
Kwame Nkrumah was born in Nkroful, Gold Coast , in 1909. Nkrumah’s mother sent him to a Catholic mission , elementary school, in the small town of half Assini. By 1925 Nkrumah was baptised in the Catholic faith. That same year Nkrumah, a brilliant student was noticed by a reverend named Alec Fraser, who was a principal at the Government Training College, there he met Kwegyir Aggrey, a headmaster educated at Columbia University. Aggrey would mentor Nkrumah and educate him on the works of Jamaican Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey and American civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois.
After graduating in 1930, Nkrumah would get a teaching position at a Catholic primary school, in Elima , he would later be named headmaster of a school in Axim. In 1933, while still in Axim, he began to get involved in politics and created the Nzima Literary Society. During that sametime Nkrumah would also befriend future Nigerian President Nnamdi Azikiwe, who would influence Nkrumah’s belief in black African nationalism.
In 1935, Nkrumah would move to the United States to further his education, eventually earning a scholarship at Lincoln College, he would work as a dishwasher to pay his bills. In 1939 ,Nkrumah earned a degree in economics and sociology. Lincoln would later name Nkrumah an assistant lecturer of philosophy. That same year in 1939, Nkrumah would enroll both at Lincoln’s seminary and Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor’s of Theology in 1942 and the next year earned both a Masters of arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science in Education, from Penn.
During his summer breaks, Nkrumah would go to Harlem, where he would converse on black thought and get involved in the community.
In 1944, Nkrumah would begin to get involved in activism, he would create the African students Association of America and Canada, with fellow expatriates from Africa. Nkrumah would also play a big role in the Pan-African conference in 1944, held in New York.
In 1945, Nkrumah would move to London, while there, he spent his time doing political organizing, and would help organize the fifth Pan-African congress, that was held in Manchester, United Kingdom.
In 1946 the Gold Coast constitution gave Africans a majority on the Legislative Council for the first time in history. Many Africans in the Gold Coast Colony, saw this as the first process towards independence. This prompted several successful African Businessmen to form their own political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), their aim was to gain independence from Great Britain as soon as possible, since most of the UGCC members were successful businessmen and very busy, they looked for someone to run the party. Kwame Nkrumah, he had just returned home to the Gold Coast was suggested by Ako Adjei, Nkrumah would accept the position, because it gave him political opportunities and connections , he otherwise would not have.
In 1948 there was nationwide dissatisfaction on how the British controlled colony was run, due to inflation caused by World War 2, people were angry over high prices for goods, which helped lead to a boycott of Arab owned stores. Also there were tens of thousands of ex-service men who returned and were having a hard time obtaining jobs,and the Colonial authorities did little to remedy the situation. On February 28, 1948 , Nkrumah led a demonstration, which was to end with Nkrumah giving a petition to the Colonial Governor of the Gold Coast. Soon after the demonstrations began, the British began to shoot at the protesters, which would ultimately led to riots in Accra, which would spread throughout the colony . The British government assumed that the UGCC was responsible and six of its top leaders, including Nkrumah were arrested. In April 1948 after several protests by supporters demanding their release and a plot a storm the prison was discovered, all the UGCC members were freed, by the authorities.
With growing pressure from his supporters to start his own political party and with increasing conflict within the UGCC, on June 12, 1949, Nkrumah announced the formation of the Convention People’s Party (CPP). CPP staff members drove all over the country to gain support for Nkrumah, from all walks of life, from poor farmers to successful business people, these campaigns were very successful and contrary to the strategy of his rivals, who focused mainly on the Urban intelligentsia.
Nkrumah called for unions in Ghana to have a general strike, when it was discovered, that the British selected a commission of elitist Africans, including some UGCC members to draft a new constitution, that would give The Gold Coast more powers to be self-governed , but not full independence. The strike would eventually led to violence and on January 1950, Nkrumah and several CPP members would be arrested. Nkrumah would be sent to prison, in Nkrumah’s absence, his assistant, Komla Agebeli Gbedeman, would continue to run the CPP, and grow its national appeal.
In the universal Legislative election, the first universal Franchise election to be held in colonial Africa, Nkrumah’s cpp party tool 34 of the 38 seats available, Nkrumah was elected by his Accra Constituency. Nkrumah would face many issues,when took office, he was a virgin in government politics, he also had to find a way to unite the four major regions, that were once four very distinct colonies, and some how find a way to forge them unified country.
Before the CPP took complete control of the government, Nkrumah and the British agreed on a joint five year plan to improve infrastructure in the nation. Nkrumah’s official title was Leader of Government Business in a cabinet, but when the British Governor left the cabinet, Nkrumah became the Prime Minister. In July of 1956 an election was held and the results were the same as the previous election, and on August 3, the Assembly voted for full independence. In September, the British Colonial office announced independence would be granted on March 6, 1957.
Nkrumah would serve as President of the newly formed independent nation of Ghana from 1957-1966. During those years Nkrumah sought to end Tribalism, improve civil service, education and promote Pan-Africanism throughout the continent of Africa, which consisted of Nkrumah creating several International organizations to build unity on the world’s 2nd largest continent.
Despite Nkrumah’s good deeds, the longer he was in office, the more he began to act like more a dictator, he had the constitution amended to give himself the power to have any judge removed, he also proposed an amendment, that was passed, that made the CPP, the only legal party in Ghana. Nkrumah created a Ghana news agency and consolidated state control over newspapers.
During the time of independence, Ghana was one of Africa’s wealthiest, with railways, schools, social security, hospitals, a thriving cocoa industry and good economy. But Nkrumah’s desire to rapidly industrialize Ghana, put Ghana in debt.
With Nkrumah’s popularity levels going down both nationally and internationally, and a with decreasing economy, on February 1966, While on a tour to China and North Vietnam, Nkrumah’s government was overthrown by a military coup, that was led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and the National Liberation Council. It was later revealed that the CIA took part in the coup. In 1978, John Stockwell, the former Chief of the CIA’s Angola task force wrote :
” inside CIA headquarters the Accra station was given full, if unofficial credit for the eventual coup……None of this was adequately reflected in the agency’s written records.”
Nkrumah would never return to Ghana, but continued to fight for a united Africa. While in exile he lived in Conakry, Guinea, as a guest of President Ahmed Sekou Toure, he was given the title of honorary Co – President of Guinea. Even in exile Nkrumah always feared for his life from Western intelligence agencies. One of Nkrumah’s cook’s died suddenly and mysteriously and Nkrumah feared he would be poisoned. In bad health Nkrumah flew to Bucharest, Romania to receive medical treatment in August 1971, he would die a few months later of prostate cancer in 1972, he was 62.
MEMORIAL TO KWAME NKRUMAH IN ACCRA, GHANA.
In 2000 BBC listeners voted him Africa’s man of the Millennium. And in 2009, late Ghana President John Atta Mills declared on September 21, the 100th anniversary of Nkrumah’s birth to be founders day, statutory holiday in Ghana to celebrate the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah.
KWAME NKRUMAH’S GHANA INDEPENDENCE SPEECH MARCH 6, 1957 IN ACCRA.
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“HAPPY MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY, ENJOY THIS SHORT DOCUMENTARY: Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights Movement”
BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
Martin Luther King Jr. Was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia to mother Alberta Williams King and Father Martin Luther King, sr.
He would attend Booker T. Washington High School, and after graduating early, he would attend Morehouse University, earning a B.A degree in sociology. After completing his studies at Morehouse University, King would continue his education, earning a Bachelor’s of Divinity, from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1951.
A couple years later , King would marry the beautiful and intelligent Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, they would have four children together, Yolanda King, Martin Luther king the 3rd, Dexter Scott King and Bernice King.
In 1955 King would begin to get involved in political and civil rights activism, when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the (SCLC) Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in 1957 , King served as the organization’s first president.
In 1963 King would help organize nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama and would help organize the march on Washington, where he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.
On October 14, 1964, because of his nonviolent activism against racism and inequality, he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1965 King would help organize the “Selma to Montgomery Marches”, and the next year King would take the SCLC to Chicago to work on ending segregated housing practices.
In the last few years of his life, King would focus his attention to ending poverty in America and he would speak out against the Vietnam war.
In 1968, While King was Organizing a National Occupation on Washington, D.C, to be called the “Poor People’s Campaign”, King would be assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
King would posthumously be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
James Earl Ray would ultimately be charged and convicted of the murder of king, even though many people including King’s family believed he was only a scapegoat.
In 1999, the King family won a civil suit against the federal government, proving the took part in the conspiracy to kill King.
Read The New York Times article for more details :
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BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
Macolm X, born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, he was the son of Louise and Earl Little, two black activists who were followers of the Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. When Malcolm was a young child he was orphaned when his father was killed, most likely by white supremacists and his mother subsequently went crazy and had to go to a mental hospital. Throughout his teen years he would commit many petty crimes to survive and at the age of 20, in 1946 he would go to prison for larceny, breaking and entering.
While in prison he would eventual become a member of the Nation of Islam, when he was paroled in 1952, he became one of the Nation of Islam’s most popular and influential leaders, who was known for not only lecturing people on Islamic issues, but also race relations in America. By 1964 while Malcolm was having major issues with the Nation of Islam, he and black activists like Martin Luther King Jr. were also being spied on by the FBI’S COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program ). Later that same year, after taking a spiritual pilgrimage to Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he would convert to traditional Sunni Islam.
Once back in the United States he would form Muslim Mosque, inc and the Organization of Afro-American unity.
In his lasts days he would continue to preach against systematic white supremacy and preach for the right of blacks to defend themselves and have self-determination.
On February 1965, Malcolm X would be assassinated by three nation of Islam members, many people still believe that the United States, through the FBI’S Counter Intelligence Program, had a hand in his tragic fate, or at least failed to prevent it, and considering they (FBI) were spying on him and had infiltrated the Nation of Islam, they would of known of the plot to kill the civil rights leader.
WATCH THIS GREAT MINI DOCUMENTARY!
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