Chadwick Boseman is set to play the role of Yasuke, a legendary figure who was said to be the first and only African samurai in Japanese history.
“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best-kept secrets,” Boseman recently said to Deadline, “the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai. The actor then spoke to its historical significance by adding: “that’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”
According to the biography African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan, the real Yasuke landed in Japan in 1579 after originally being taken from his village near the Nile River to India where he was under Portuguese servitude. Once there, Yasuke became an indentured bodyguard to a powerful Portuguese Jesuit missionary, who then turned Yasuke over to the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga in a diplomatic effort to appease him. At that point it’s believed Nobunaga awarded Yasuke the coveted title of samurai, making him the first and only non-Asian to earn such a distinction.