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‘Thoroughly Scrubbed’
Yasuke: Story of the African Samurai in Japan
© 2020 James LaFond
The story of the Bantu Samurai in the 1500s during the Sengeko Edo, includes the cheery note that Yasuke, the Bob Sapp of his day, was granted a household, including Japanese slaves to serve his ebony will. It was hilarious that his first Daimyo thought he was a Portuguese dyed with ink and had him scrubbed to remove the stain. Yasuke fought as a samurai for a year and was eventually reunited with his Jesuit masters instead of being executed or forced to commit suicide after losing a battle. He was denied the privilege of death and returned to the Christians because his captor regarded him as a subhuman.
The narrator does point out that the slave trade among Africans was preexisting and not initiated by the Europeans or Arabs.
The second video, on Malik Ambar, demonstrates the truism that religion more than race, divided master from slave in the Old World. The ban on Muslims and Hebrews from owning their own kind encouraged this, as did the general Abrahamic sentiment, than any heathen is an animal and therefore morally open to enslavement. Note that the Ethiopian slave trade was dominated by Christians and Muslims shipping multitudes of animists into bondage. Legislation in 1640s and 1650s Virginia would also reflect the belief that being owned by a person of Muslim or Heathen faith was not to be the fate of a Christian.
Note that slavery under Islam often held out the possibility of freedom through conversion after a person had shown their military worth.
Additionally, we have an English sea dog who became a Japanese warrior in the most xenophobic nation on earth, in the heart of the Plantation Era. This young fellow was apprenticed at 12, which meant he was unfree in youth and early adulthood, but more in the manner of a slave under Islam, like Malik Akbar, than a perpetual English servant. Apprenticeship, which was one of the rarer forms of servitude, reserved for boys with prospects and family connections, is the type of investment servitude that we are taught to consider under the anachronistic term of “Indentured Servitude.”
This dude piloted a ship on a two year voyage, bringing in 23 of 500 crewmen on 1 surviving ship of five. William Adams ended up becoming the pet blue-eyed devil of the Shogun and was awarded 80 slaves and a Japanese wife in return for being the nation’s naval advisor. Adams was sailing under a Dutch flag. This man who had fought the Spanish Armada in 1588, had the Portuguese banished from Japan and died a rich man in 1622 in Japan—as an actual slave of the highest order— [1] as Jamestown was burning under an Indian uprising. Adam’s story was the basis for novelist James Clavel’s Shogun.

In slave societies only the priest-king, emperor, caliph, pope or a member of a “chosen” folk is not a slave to another human, being exclusively the slave of Heaven.
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