Wargaming the Exploration and Colonisation of Tropical Africa by European powers from 1850 until 1918.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Azande leader

Later in the period some of the Azande, particularly leader's bodyguards, affected Arab dress. Foundry do some Arabised musketmen and I should pick up a couple of packs for my army. I also have some more rank and file I need to paint which I got on eBay recently. Best to add to an army I already have than start a new one!

Princess makeover



I got home early today so had a go at re-painting my Azande princess. She looks much better. It makes me realise that most of my Darkest Africa stuff will need re-doing (except the tribesmen, they look OK).


The first figures I bought from the Foundry Darkest Africa range were some generic tribal warriors which I equipped with basket shields to be allies of the Azande, who were the next figures I bought. These were the first 28mm figures I had ever painted, after a lifetime of plastic, and they look a bit ropey now.

In fact, the first figure I painted was this one to serve as a princess. She definitely needs a repaint. I might have a go to see if I can improve her this weekend. It might make a good "before and after" project.

I like the Azande as an army; they are the Uruk Hai of Darkest Africa! Their name means the people who possess much land, and refers to their history as conquering warriors.

The Azande were experts at ambushes. In the early period they used bows and then later muskets.

During all periods, however, they used their characteristic throwing knives the kpinga.

These Azande musketmen are a mixture of Foundry and the later ones Mark Copplestone did for his own Copplestone castings, some of these were painted more recently and are a bit better done than some of the earlier figures I did.

This is my Azande command group, at least they know what to do with a Belgian!

An Azande chief's hut

Classic basketwork shield and knives. The sickle bladed ones are for hand to hand combat rather than throwing. The caption on this picture refers to them as Niam-Niam (or Nyam-Nyam) both of which terms were used to describe them by 19th century Europeans; the word being of Dinka (Sudan) origin and meaning great eaters (they were reputed to be cannibals).

The Azande would hold up to four kpinga in their left hands concealed behind their shields. In 1925 Emil Torday wrote; "The first attack was made of arrows..then all of a sudden some objects glittering in the sun as if they were thuderbolts come whirling with a weird hum through the air.. it smites the warrior behind his defence with its cruel blades." Nasty!

The Azande shield was known as kube and was made of split rattan cane reinforced with tightly braided ropes around the rims. The characteristic patterns were so that warriors could identify each other in the dark. There is a good collection of them in the Pitt-Rivers museum in Oxford (see picture below).

They also have a good collection of Azande and Belgian colonial stuff in the military musem in Brussels. It's rather an old fashioned museum with everything in old wooden cases but it suits the material somehow. I'm over there later in the year so will try to take a picture or two but I remember it being very dark and flash photography is probably not allowed. I also recently saw a nice Azande shield in the National Museum in Copenhagen. They had quite an interesting exhibition on the colonial Congo when I was there in March.

I played a Darkest Africa game at Guildford against Mike's (of Black Hat Miniatures http://www.blackhat.co.uk/) Belgians but my Azande got quite comprehensively massacred by his White Men and gunboat mounted cannon. Jolly unsporting! Most of my units were destroyed or ran away before they even came into combat!

The Azande people still live in the southern Sudan (mostly), The Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As usual tribal groupings are not recognised by colonial boundaries; the cause of most problems in Africa. Here is a Zande (singular of Azande as well as the language) girl and her Basenji hunting dogs.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Mbongo, Mbongo they drink it in the Congo..

I have decided to set up yet another wargaming blog as I am getting back into Darkest Africa wargaming again. Partly based on my current project on the Sudanbut also due to a documentary on The Nile I saw on TV last weekend. I have always been interested in the exploits of explorers such as Burton, Speke, Livingstone, Stanly and Baker so the appearance of 28mm figures of these and many other characters (who would have thought you would ever be able to buy a 28mm Sidi Bombay?) by Mark Copplestone for Foundry pushed me into buying my first ever 28mm figures five or six years ago.

I have a fair number of painted figures already and, needless to say, a big collection of unpainted ones (including a Foundry Belgian deal I really need to address.

My most extant army is an Azande one with Congolese allies and I will put some pictures of these up over the weekend.

I have played several games at Guildford using Chris Peers Darkest Africa rules and am also tempted to try a game or two using The Sword and the Flame to see how the rules differ..

Oh, and Mbongo, Mbongo is the Zande name for the Elephant fish. And you thought it was a drink..