Yasuke: The Black Samurai

Yasuke was of black African origin and who served under the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1581 and 1582, as a Samurai. According to historical accounts, Yasuke may have been a Muslim who originated from Mozambique,  Portugal, Angola or Ethiopia.  Described as healthy and good-looking with a pleasant demeanour, tall (at least 6 ft. 2 in.) and had a very strong, and intimidating presence.  Yasuke quickly rose through the ranks becoming Nobunaga’s chief warrior and was given his own residence and a ceremonial katana by Nobunaga. Nobunaga eventually made Yasuke his bodyguard and a samurai in 1581 and was stationed at Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle. Mitsuhide, who was one of Nobunaga’s trusted vassals, who later went onto to betray his Lord at Honnōji, dismissed Yasuke as “a beast” and not a true samurai because he wasn’t Japanese. Yasuke offered his sword to Mitsuhide, as was customary, and returned to the service of the…