Home Culture African slaves history: Top 5 African slaves who later became legendary

African slaves history: Top 5 African slaves who later became legendary

african slaves history

African slaves history recorded were millions of Africans enslaved throughout world history via the Atlantic slave trade and the Arab slave trade, these Africans were taken to foreign lands, and some merely survived.

African in Diaspora is a product of these slave trade, these circumstances were breeding grounds for heroes, and every once in awhile slavers would run into one an individual that was not just going to survive but that was going to thrive becoming legendary.

In this article about African slaves history, we’re going to talk about the top five enslaved Africans who later during their lifetime became legendary.

(5). Mansa Sakura 

mansa sakura

Mansa Sakura was a court slave of Sundiata Keita the founder of the Mali Empire, being a slave at birth he would have been completely reliant on the will of Sundiata but he would have learned a lot from the great ruler of Mali. it seems as though Sundiata saw great potential in Sakura and so he decided to free him.

Mansa Sakura then served as a general in Sundiata’s army. Sometime after Sundiata’s death, Mali fell into a brief period of instability over the crown. Sakura seized this opportunity in full, beat his opponents, and became the king of Mali, it was during the reign of Mansa Sakura that Mali saw a great increase in his territory. Mansa Sakura was a king that put in much of the groundwork for the great empire we know and love today. 

(4). Yasuke

yasuke the african slave that became a japanese samurai

Next on our list is the legendary hero Yasuke, now some may be surprised he’s not as high on the list but remember out of the millions of unnamed enslaved 

Africans his name survives for us today, also some may make the argument that Yasuke technically wasn’t a slave but that simply isn’t true. 

oda nobunaga: African slaves history

Yasuke had little to no control over his profession at least initially, Yasuke was an African who was offered to Oda Nobunaga in 1581 as a tribute by the Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano. Yasuke became so beloved by the Japanese ruler that he acquired the esteemed title of samurai, he was originally believed to be from Mozambique.

The Japanese were very intrigued by Yasuke as they had never seen an African and Oda Nobunaga took great interest in him. He was described by a Japanese account as a healthy young man of about 16 or 17 years of age, black as a bull and possessed of a fine character. He was called Yasuke by the Japanese and was reportedly given his own residence and a Kyoto weapon. Nobunaga himself claims he was much older about 26 or 27 he hailed him as being strong good-looking and possessing a great demeanor.

Yasuke fought alongside Nobunaga’s forces as a valued samurai during a pivotal moment in Japanese history called the Sengoku period, a period marked by constant military conflict over the unification of Japan. Incredibly, an enslaved African played a role in such a pivotal moment in Japanese history. 

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(3). Ganga Zumba 

ganga zumba

Ganga Zumba was the first leader of a massive runaway slave settlement in Brazil. Zumba was an enslaved African who escaped bondage on a sugar plantation and eventually rose to the position of highest authority creating his kingdom in Brazil. This tremendous achievement gave him the title Ganga Zumba meaning great lord.

Ganga was said to be African royalty as he was a son of a princess from the Congo empire, during warfare with the Portuguese he was captured as a prisoner of war and sent off to Brazil.

Ganga helped to form alone communities of former enslaved Africans in Brazil which later form into a well-organized Kingdom in which he became king. By the 1670s Ganga Zumba had a palace, three wives, guards, ministers, and devoted subjects at his royal compound called Macaco. The compound consisted of 1500 houses that housed his family, guards, and officials all of which were considered royalties. It’s so fitting that a prince of the Congo Empire will continue his royal lineage by literally creating an empire of his own under the worst conditions possible this is indeed legendary.

(2). Malik Ambar

African slaves history

Malik Ambar was an Ethiopian leader in the Deccan region of India, Malik is special because most enslaved Africans were captured as war captives when their kingdoms or villages got invaded. Malik on the other hand became enslaved because his parents sold him into slavery, it doesn’t get any worse than that.

Over its time he was sold repeatedly in the Middle East and eventually ended up in India. He didn’t allow his start to deter him, however, he became a reagent in one Indian dynasty and later raised his army, and he increased the strength of his region and even founded a new city. 

Malik rose from his circumstance and created a mercenary force numbering up to 1500 men, a force that was hired by local Kings. He’s regarded as a pioneer in guerrilla warfare for that region in India and one of his many accomplishments includes humbling the might of the Mughal’s even though they eventually gained the upper hand. 

Malik Ambar was a great statesman and soldier and he is a testament to the legacy of Africans in India.

(1). Gasper Yanga 


At top of our list and one of the greatest legendary former enslaved African heroes is Gasper Yanga. Gasper was an enslaved African leader of a maroon colony in the highlands of Veracruz Mexico during Spanish rule. Some scholars proclaimed that Mexico has the second-largest number of enslaved Africans after Brazil.

Around 1570 Yanga led a band of slaves and escaping to the highlands near Veracruz, under Gaspar’s leadership they successfully and fiercely fought to maintain their freedom for more than 30 years in the Mexican highlands. The Spanish sent troops in attempts to take over the territory and enslave Gasper and his communities, their attempts were greatly frustrated by the Maroons and the Spaniards cannot at all gain a conclusive victory for years, heavy losses on both sides drew the Spaniards to sign a treaty-based on gaspers terms in 1618.

one cannot talk about African slaves history without mentioning Gasper Yanga, Just like Ganga Zumba, Gasper Yanga was said to be a member of a royal family, a prince from modern-day Gabon. in the late 19th-century Yanga was named as a national hero of Mexico and the settlement he formed located in today’s Veracruz province was renamed as Yanga in his honor. 


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