I can't say there is anything I can add here that would really provoke much discourse, but I completely agree with your observations. Just because a sword can't be used in the same way as an olympic fencing foil doesn't make it an "unwieldy ceremonial status-symbol" or whatever. I also like your observation on colonial hubris; I think that's actually the best way of describing the thought process that has resulted in the weapons of entire cultures being deemed as purely ceremonial.
I agree with Jim though that absolutely some forms were for status or parade, however I think most of these "parade forms" are pretty obvious. IMO there's a pretty clear difference between what the intentions behind a standard mambele and say, some kind of abstract, sculptural konda sword