Edinburgh - Orkney Wargames


The He He

King Mkwawa and his He He Empire

Army for In the Heart of Africa

An Abandoned Period


The He He Kingdom was a confederation of about 30 tribes who lived in what is now Southern Tanzania. Their weird name is said to come from their war cry - Hee Hee! Vatavagu twihoma! Ehee! No, I've no idea what it means either.

The confederation was first formed under the leadership of King Munyigumba (ruled 1855-79), and he slowly expanded his kingdom, battling both the neighbouring Ngoni (Zulu wannabes), and the Masai. By the time the Germans came along in the 1880's the He He were regarded as a formidable military power - the "Junkers of East Africa - a true warrior tribe who live only for war". Clearly they weren't going to let the Germans roll all over them.

When the king died he was succeeded by his son Mkwawa (ruled 1879-98), who continued to build up the kingdom - until the Germans came along. In 1891 a German expedition against the He He was chopped up at the Battle of the Rugara River (17th August 1891) - the most significant defeat suffered by the Germans during their colonial conquests. However, the invaders had their revenge, and in October 1894 they stormed and captured King Mkwawa's fortress capital at Kalenga. The He He continued to resist, waging a guerrilla war until King Mkwawa was forced to commit suicide in order to avoid capture in January 1898.



The backbone of the He He army was its veteran wajinga (regiments) of warriors, equipped in the Ngoni fashion - which meant they looked pretty much like Zulus, and were equipped with stabbing spears and hide shields.

The main He He regiments were backed up by tribal allies, and my copious numbers of musketeers.  This makes it a pretty interesting army, with firepower as well as a formidable melee ability.



Just for fun, there's also the option to equip the army with a Witchdoctor (useful against other African armies - it forces a morale test on opposing units), or even more fun - a captured German machine gun. Apparently they captured one at the Rugara River, but couldn't get it to work. In the rules it jams if any "1"s are thrown (almost a certainty), but in its first tabletop outing the He He maxim gun proved singularly effective - more so than its professionally crewed German counterpart!


If you're interested in this stuff, here's the Heart of Africa army list for the He He - designed for a 600 point force.

 * Between 1870-85 the army must consist of at least 16 musketeers.From 1891-98 a unit of up to 4 musketeers (with captured German rifles) can be upgraded to Heavily-Armed Askaris @ +8 points)




 Sample 600 point army:                                                                                                                 

  • Leader:  King (Disc)  with 3 attendants                                            Free
  • Standard Bearer                                                                             50
  • Vanamwani  wajinga unit “Warriors” (20 figures)                           180
  • Valambo wajinga unit “Warriors” (20 figures)                                 180
  • Kimbu unit “Spearmen” (24 figures)                                                  96
  • Musketeer unit (12 figures)                                                               48
  • Musketeer unit (12 figures)                                                               48

                 Total:                                          602 points