….lets see what fascinating behaviour we can uncover today!
This started as a comment, but since it is Saturday I thought I might make it into a post.
Here the British Museum returns artifacts that were ‘stolen’ from Benin City in southern Nigeria during a British invasion of 1897:
“The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria,” the board’s chair Eve Salomon said in a statement.Some liberal newspaper
There has been a view popularized in recent years that these indigenous “societies” were some kind of Utopias prior to the arrival of white men, where the natives sat around holding hands and singing kumbaya, pondering the gender spectrum, and wondering if they were male or female – because apparently white people hadn’t shown up yet to tell them what sex they were.
A lot of this fanciful view was popularised by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe who in 1958 wrote ‘Things Fall Apart‘ which portrayed pre-colonial life in Nigeria as a peaceful Utopia destroyed by Europeans. Never mind that Benin had been a staging export point for African slave trade for several hundred years, it was a veritable ‘Wakanda’… just without the technology.
However, this is what the British actually witnessed when they arrived in Nigeria’s then capital Benin in 1897:
“…Alters covered in streams of dried human blood, the stench of which was awful… huge pits, forty to fifty feet deep, were found filled with human bodies, dead and dying, and a few wretched captives were rescued alive… everywhere sacrificial trees on which were the corpses of the latest victims… everywhere, on each path, were newly sacrificed corpses. On the principal sacrificial tree, facing the main gate of the King’s compound, there were two crucified bodies…”
Joseph Conrad, a Polish sailor who wrote some of the our most iconic books in English as his third language honestly encapsulated the horrors of Africa in his ‘Heart of Darkness‘ famously remade as Apocalypse Now.
It was a story of madness and power, journeying into the heart of Africa south of Benin. But it was also a story describing the protagonist not only coming to dominate the locals, but doing so by adopting their values so as to ascend the power hierarchy freed of our own constraining western morals (as an aside, at times it was written at three to four levels of recursion down, like ‘Inception‘ but only written a hundred years before).
But the PC view nowadays is, nevermind the unceasing horror and barbarity – they were all lies. They were made up by the British who racistly wrote these things in 1897 in order to justify their actions and invasion. Nevermind our own experience of Rwanda, Idi Amin, and child & albino sacrifice for African Juju (voodoo) – No! White man bad – this now is the only politically acceptable historical truth.
Yes sure territorial and economic gains went with the British as they colonised Africa – but in exchange they brought with them the benefits of civilization and ending unimaginable horror and terror. A fair trade if you were fair minded and hadn’t had your thinking corrupted by notions of ‘cultural relativity’, and the need to always and in every instance portray our Civilization as morally wrong. Objectively, colonisation did more good than bad.
It is the same with all these other indigenous ‘civilizations’ and supposed ‘nirvanas’ that are meant to have existed before white man came along.
Before Cortez landed in Mexico the Aztecs, who had invaded from the North ruled over central Mexico, and like Benin in Africa the Aztecs ran their civilization on terror. Just prior to Cortez’s arrival they had finished sacrificing some 80,000 people to the rain Gods in order to bring rain. Cortez only
Honestly the scenes in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (one of the best films of the 2000’s) was a fairly mild depiction to reality.
Having your heart ripped out and your head chopped off was actually probably preferable than to be sacrificed to the corn god, who was honored by having their victims peeled, like you peel your corn. Being flayed alive and then crucified as a feeding station for crows, like a reverse scare-crow to protect the corn, while watching your skin be dried out, is I imagine one of the less pleasant ways to go.
For years tales of the horrors Cortezs discovered were discounted as propaganda. That was until they started excavation in Mexico city and discovered an Aztec temple that was literally constructed from human skulls. Central and South America lacked strong draft animals (the alpaca could carry stuff, so there was trade), so human slaves who were treated like animals made up the slack.
In the Pacific Islands with booming human populations, but limited opportunity to provide plenty of protein, ending up as ‘long pig’ on a spit was a very real risk for most people. Raiding parties from different islands were regularly raiding each other and making literal shish-kebabs out of their enemies.
In Australia, with arid conditions the birth of twins or even a single baby during a drought, could result huge survival pressures on the tribe, deliberate infantcide was practiced. Early settlers document discussions with aboriginal women, described stuffing leaves and twigs, or pour dust down the infants mouth until they suffocated.
Defenders of indigenous Utopia say these stories must have been made up, written by racists justifying their conquest. But in reality they were written by settlers who where simply interested in the world around them, and accurately wrote about many other things – they had no incentive to make anything up, they were more interested in simply documenting.
Likewise the indigenous women they talked to and documented, were completely untainted by any aspects of our civilizations understanding of ‘wrong’ or morality, and thus had no reason to hide their actions it was simply a cultural norm to them. These stories are far more likely to be true than the complete fantasy written about by Bruce Paxton in ‘Dark Emu’. Yet so many smart people I know immediately fell for his con, and even after it was revealed, choose to continue believing in it -because they only remember what they want to remember.
But as I started with, all of this is done for a reason – it is done to disposes us, being Christian Western European civilization, of our accomplishments. Ending civilizations of terror, as existed in Benin and Aztec, massively improving the quality of life of everyone in the world, and transferring our knowledge and social capital to bring this about, was done through ‘colonization’. The people of these nations should celebrate every day that colonization AND civilization was brought to their shores.
Our past is being re-written in our to justify the process of our dispossession in the present.