In the 1500s, a man of black African descent was accepted as the first black Samurai. Dubbed Yasuke by the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga, he fought for Nobunaga’s army from 1581-1582.
Although the specifics of Yasuke’s origin are unclear (according to various write-ups, he could’ve been from Mozambique, Angola or Ethiopia), he quickly became Nobunaga’s chief warrior and personal bodyguard before officially becoming a Samurai in 1581.
Now, Hollywood is working on bringing Yasuke’s story to the big screen in the form of Black Samurai, a movie produced by Michael De Luca (The Social Network, American History X) and written by Gregory Widen (Highlander).
Writer, Gregory Widen, said about the movie:
“[Black Samurai] is based on the true story of an African whose journey to Japan comes with conflicting background stories. The one I’ve chosen is that he was a slave soldier after the fall of Abysinnian Bengal, a black kingdom run by Ethiopians. He was sold into slavery and found himself in the care of Alessandro Valignano, an Italian missionary. They formed a bond, and when there were complications in Rome, he was sent to Japan and took Yasuke with him. There he met Oda Nobunaga, who was interested in all Western things, and through a series of bizarre events, the Jesuit left Yasukie with the warlord.”
No other information is known about the forthcoming film, but it will be interesting to see who will be selected for the lead role of the film. Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn into yet another white savior flick…