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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: THE AFRICAN SAMURAI-YASUKE

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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

Origins

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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.

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ARRIVAL IN JAPAN

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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.

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BLACK SAMURAI

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 unkown and there is no more written about him after this time.

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Black History Spotlight:From Black American Soldier to Filipino Freedom Fighter: The Story of David Fagan

By:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare


Early Life


David Fagan was born in Tampa,Florida in 1875. Fagan served in the United States 24th regiment of the United States army.


Revolutionary


However on the 17th of November 1899, Fagan would leave the United States army and joined the Filipino liberation army. No one is quite sure why Fagan and some other black soldiers defected to the Filipino resistance. Some people speculate that being born only about a decade after the the Civil War and seeing White America’s mistreatment not of only Black civilians, but also Black soldiers, combined with the cruel, inhumane and racist abuse the White America soldiers inflicted on thr Filipino freedom fighters; he may of have seen more of a commonality with the cause of the dark skin Filipino freedom fighters, than he did with the white soldiers of the American imperialist war machine, some of whom were probably the children of former slave owners. Fagan would become an extremely successful guerrilla war leader and he would awarded the rank of captain in the Philippine Revolutionary army.


After The Philippine-American War


After the war was over, the United States gave amnesty to most of their opponents on the Filipino side, however Fagan did not receive amnesty and was considered by the U.S.A to be a traitor. A reward was offered for his capture, it was claimed when someone brought in a decomposed head and claimed that it belonged to Fagan. There are conflicting stories that say that the head did not belong to Fagan and claim that he lived out his life with his wife in the tranquil Filipino mountains.


Check out this short-biographic video on David Fagan
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