They are by no means jungle savages

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

The war brought all kinds of people together, Dunlap explains:

Sudanese are rated higher than the paler Arabic Egyptian by the Europeans in the Near East, and they are popular as waiters and general servants. As a people they are much cleaner and less diseased, and are a prouder race. Some have become wealthy business men in the cities. They are by no means jungle savages. The British respect them highly and rate them almost on a par with the Ghurka as fighting men. As Kipling wrote of “Fuzzy-Wuzzy,” he was the only man who ever “broke a British Square.” His hair is not so kinky and he does not wear it in the fuzzy-head fashion any more. The English have educated them as best they could and all except the back-country boys could read and write Arabic. One young fellow came up to me with an English-language newspaper once to ask the meaning of the word “counter-attack” — he was reading the news to the rest of his gang. Turned out he could read, write and speak Arabic, French and English, but had trouble with the English.

I do not know if their national sport is still killing lions with spears but they know how to handle rifles. Both the Arabs and the Sudanese seemed to understand weapons very well. We used to call one of them over every once in awhile and give him a gun of some sort to look over while we looked him over. I remember once an M1 rifle came through somehow and we let some of the natives see it. One of them snapped back the operating handle, looked in the chamber and receiver, worked the safety a couple of times, asked what the gas cylinder was and handed it back. He knew how it worked, that was all. No awe, no surprise, no nothin’, except he would like it a little lighter; so would I.

When a batch of American Negro soldiers came through I brought several down to the warehouse to pick up their rations and witness their reaction to the Sudanese and vice versa. The Americans went pop-eyed at the rather sinister-looking boys and definitely disclaimed all relationship on their part. As one of them put it, “They may belong to mah race, but thazzall! I ain’t like them!” One of the Sudanese came to me and asked how come. I told him in Arabic that they were Americans whose ancestors had been Africans. He said “Why?” That being involved, I forcefully requested him to start throwing the Spam on the truck.

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