We talk with Thomas Lockley about his book, African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan. It’s about the first foreigner and the only African to ever become a samurai.
Then, who—or what—won at Tuesday’s Democratic debate? Political analyst John Nichols of the Nation magazine joins us with his take. His article for the Nation is “Last Night’s Debate Produced a Clear Winner: Medicare for All.”
When the African warrior Yasuke arrived in Japan in the late 1500s, he had already traveled much of the known world. Kidnapped as a child, he had ended up a servant and bodyguard to the head of the Jesuits in Asia.
His arrival in Kyoto, however, literally caused a riot. Most Japanese people had never seen an African man before. Among those who were drawn to his presence was Lord Nobunaga, head of the most powerful clan in Japan. He was so taken with Yasuke that he made him a samurai in his court —the first foreigner ever to attain that status. Soon, Yasuke was learning the traditions of Japan’s martial arts and ascending the upper echelons of Japanese society.
In the four hundred years since, Yasuke has been known in Japan largely as a legendary figure. Now, in his book African Samurai, co-authored with Geoffrey Girard , Thomas Lockley presents the never-before-told biography of Yasuke, recounting his journey from Northeast Africa to the heights of Japanese society. In so doing, African Samurai offers a new perspective on race in world history and a vivid portrait of life in medieval Japan.
Thomas Lockley is Associate Professor at Nihon University College of Law in Tokyo, where he teaches courses about the international and multicultural history of Japan and East Asia.
The first in the second round of the Democratic presidential debates happened on Tuesday, July 30. Much of the first half of the debate was taken up with opponents of Medicare for All going after Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, egged on by the debate moderators.
Sanders wrote the Senate version of the Medicare For All bill, as he pointedly reminded Tim Ryan when the latter accused him of not knowing what Medicare for all would cover.
We speak with Nation magazine national-affairs correspondent John Nichols about his post-debate article, Last Night’s Debate Produced a Clear Winner: Medicare for All. Nichols also explains why covering undocumented immigrants safeguards the health of all U.S. residents.