“I came I saw and I conquered” is often the motto of any conqueror. Conquest is not an easy undertaking, even if the history books make it unctuously look so. We are sold on the myth that Africa was colonised without firing a bullet. In reality, Africa was colonised through the usual approaches to conquest complete with bloody wars (e.g. against the Zulus), Massacres (e.g. the Bini Massacre), the exile of kings (Nana of Istekiri and Jaja of Opobo), the exile, deportation and imprisonment of kings thought to be divine decimating the confidence of their people and causing them to dread the conqueror (e.g. Oba Ovoranmwen), concentration camps and ethnic cleansing (e.g. in Namibia) and a lot more. Africans everywhere resisted colonisation and conquest in often gallant and admirable ways but guns and cannon versus spears and clubs provided no contests of strength but typical slow heinous slaughters for resisting, in battle and in punishment.
Conquest is particularly difficult when imposing it on peoples who believe there is “life after death”. Afghanistan often spells the end of empires for this reason. The Red Indians all believed in life after death and still do. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were Indian war chiefs as good as any European military leader, Indian warriors were formidable too, and such was not rare as Columbus and conquerors like himself witnessed. Defeat did not stop the resistance of conquest in the Red Indians so massacres became “necessary”. Initially, the massacres were well orchestrated “lessons” for Indians who subsequently resisted but this does not teach people who do not fear death because there is a better or continuing life beyond. The “only” method to stay and hold a foreign land as an occupier when the indigenes wanted them out was to “kill all of them”, more or less.
The history is captured very well in your article. Conquest is a bloody venture mostly by extreme means devoid of everything the conqueror uses to as justification to conquer – Christianity values to the heathen, liberation from primitivity, and introduction of civilisation. No talk about wealth and land as an incentive. It is the wealth and glory that conquest brings that makes the “King’s / Queen’s Conquerors” historically significant and revered eternally. Besides the chronology, Thomas Malthus had scared the living daylights out of the Europeans that mattered with Law of Diminishing Returns” – a thought that implied Europe had had it. Well, guys like Columbus simply delayed the Malthusian reality for a few centuries; our global ecology has now had it. In that light the discoverers, conquerors and colonial pioneers saved Europe and collected America.
If you are a European American would you not celebrate Columbus?