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Dervish Infantry (Madhist Army), Sudan Campaign--36 figures in 9 poses and 4 mules (one pose)

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Waterloo 1815

Item Number: AP011

Dervish Infantry (Madhist Army), Sudan Campaign

Date Released:  2005
Contents:  36 figures in 9 poses and 4 mules (one pose)
Material:  Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Color:  light grey
Average Height:  24 mm (= 1.73 m)

First a brief history lesson for a little-known campaign.  By 1880 the Sudan had been ruled, or rather misruled, by its Egyptian neighbours for decades.  Inevitably, the result was acts of rebellion, and in 1881 these began to crystallize around one man who declared himself the Mahdi ('Messiah' or 'Guided One of the Prophet').  He denounced the Egyptian occupation and preached a pure or fundamentalist Islam.  Over the next few years, various Egyptian forces sent against him and his followers were defeated and often annihilated, causing his movement to grow to the extent that, by early 1885, it had captured almost all of Sudan, including the capital of Khartoum after a siege, and effectively expelled the Egyptians.  However, what makes this campaign so well known to Europeans is that the Governor of the region died during the fall of Khartoum--a popular hero in the eyes of the British press and public--General Charles 'Chinese' Gordon.  The half-hearted attempt by the British government to rescue Gordon from the siege only adds to the drama, introducing a powerful Western army into the mix.

Originally the followers of the Mahdi were termed Dervishes, but this was soon changed to the Ansar.  Nonetheless, the British continued to refer to them as Dervishes, and it is these men that are the subject of this collection of figures.  Or rather, this set contains one section of the Dervishes, because all the warriors in this set are Beja, an important component of the Dervish forces to be sure, but only one of several.  The main grouping of the Beja tribe, the Hadendowa, fought for the Mahdi and gained the famous nickname of 'Fuzzy-Wuzzies' from the British for their remarkable hair style, although other Beja actually fought with the British and Egyptians.