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

Monday 16 May 2011

Zambezi Campaign 14: First unit of Wangwana

Having now finished the British force (except for the gunboat) I have moved on to the Arabs, who are the most numerically large of the various forces needed.  The first unit I have finished is of 14 Wangwana: the freed-men of Zanzibar. 

These Swahili of the East coast of Africa supplied most of the troops for the Arabs from Zanzibar and, indeed, those who had settled further into the interior, like our theoretical slavers in these scenarios.  They also worked for European explorers and this picture of Speke's "faithfulls" gives a good idea of their apperance.

In most pictures I have seen they are shown as wearing white, although they did wear blue and red tradecloth and even some striped material in the later period.  There seems to be a suggestion that they may have saved these brightly coloured clothes for best so, on the whole, I am going to keep them dressed in white.

I need to paint three units of fourteen of these and have already got the second unit based and undercoated and the third unit based.  I will alternate painting them with other figures I have part-painted on the workbench, so I think I will take a break from these for a bit and finish some Zulus that have been sitting around for far too long.

Leading the unit is an Arab from Zanzibar.  In fact many of the "Arabs" at this time had interbred with Africans and, indeed, it was said that they were successful at settling in the interior as they had inherited some resistance to malaria from their African forbears.

These will be useful figures I can use in explorers' forces as well.  I thought they might be a bit boring to paint but found the simple colour scheme quite relaxing!

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Zambezi Campaign 13: British force completed and two more characters

Well, it's taken four months but I have now fininished my British force for the Zambezi campaign.  A unit of Sikhs, two units of regular askaris, a unit of irregular askaris, two units of Naval brigade plus command and baggage.   61 figures altogether but I painted some extras too so altogether it's 74 figures.

I have also painted two more characters, for the McKenzie's trading post scenario.  This requires a trader, McKenzie, and three clerks. My trader is called Jones, after the character in the underrated and quite brilliant animated children's TV series Charlie Chalk.  Here he is (right) with one of his clerks Portuguese Paulo (left).  I need to find another clerk for him, who will probably be a native and for the fourth character I think I will give him a wife.  Hopefully I will get these two done in the next week.

Trader Jones is sick of his bossy wife and wishes he hadn't persuaded her to go up the Zambezi with him as he quite likes the look of the native girls who would be very happy to look after him in exchange for beads, cloth and whisky.  He wishes he had followed the example of his brother, Vic, who had the sense to travel to the South Seas instead to set up his trading post.

In fact the British force is not quite complete as I have to finish my gunboat, which means finding a suitable artillery piece and naval crew for it.  Mutineer Miniatures have just released a naval gun crew which, although from forty years earlier, will probably do.  Their figures will certainly look better with the Copplestone and Foundry ones than the rather lumpy Zulu War naval crew from Foundry.

I have now also started work on my first Arab unit and hope to have these finished by the end of this weekend.