It's a rather rare event for me to complete a unit of anything but here is my first unit of Zulus, for the 20 man The Sword and the Flame units. They are the iNdlondlo (the "adult crested mamba"), a married regiment made up of men in their mid to late thirties and originally formed in 1853. They were part of the amabandla emhlope "the white assembly" of married senior regiments who carried the white shield and formed part of the uThulwana (Cetshwayo's own regiment and, essentially, his guard unit). They were present at Isandlwana and also at Rorke's Drift, Ulundi and Khambula where they formed part of the chest of the army.
A few years before the Zulu War, in 1875, Cetshwayo gave the iNdlondlo permission to marry from the girls of the iNgcugce guild (Zulu girls were enrolled in their own amabutho from which permitted regiments could choose brides on the king's instruction). In this case, however, the girls didn't like the look of the iNdlondlo men and many ran off with their boyfriends from other regiments. Cetshawayo sent warriors to pursue the runaways and all those who were caught were killed. Estimates of the number killed run between a few dozen and hundreds. European reaction hardened against Cetshwayo as a result and as some had fled towards the Boer lands he became much tougher in his dealing with the Boers and more rigorous about enforcing his borders. All of which would contribute to the tensions in late 1878 and early 1879. Issues over women relating to these incidents also caused fighting between some regiments shortly before the war.
Zulu women cause fights
The figures are a mixture of Empress, Foundry and one Wargames Factory plastic. Despite slightly different sizes, grouped in a unit they all look fine, however. Usually when people paint white shields they give them black "stitching". Its not stitching at all of course but just the face of the shield cut to hold the pole (more on shields another time). I have seen some examples where these bits were scraped back to the skin giving a pale beige look (such as the re-creation in the National Army Museum) so for no other reason than variety I have painted the shields like this for this ibutho.