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Friendship at the IT

By Marianne Bunyan

By this time we'd made plenty of friends. As a result, we knew how much the Vietnam veterans suffered from what they had seen during the war, especially the younger soldiers. Who made it out of Hell somehow had to let it all out. "Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud" wasn't simply rhetoric, it had to be lived. If not here at the IT, where else? Here they were among friends, never felt watched, didn't have to watch out for themselves and could be who they wanted to be. Danny was among the first of our friedns from the IT that invited us to his house. He lived in the Sonnenallee with his German wife and Chico, his son. It was a surprise because we'd never met his wife before. It was a comfortable flat in a safe part of town, but Danny couldn't forget Vietnam. He was extremely nervous and "funky", talking nearly all the time about how much ways there are to kill someone without being caught. Danny was given an award for bravery in combat as he was the only soldier who had survived from his unit. At the age of 26 he was a wreck. It's a sad fact that the majority of troops that were sent to Vietnam were black.

You'd get to meet the African guys much more easily. They has less attitude and were more openly friendly than the G.I.'s, maybe because they hadn't been through the whole Vietnam experience. We accepted a lot of invitations and got to know a great many people from all the different corners of Africa. These experiences were very precious and important to us. We learned about their dreams and their everyday fears and nightmares. One group of eight african students that we met lived in one big room with eight beds, and the landlady charged them one hundred Deutschmarks for the privilege! At that time that was a lot of money.

One of our closest friends was Robert from Nigeria. He had studied in Leningrad and during one of his movies from town to town we stumbled across his school reports. It turned out that he was a straight-A student, but he never spoke about it. He only talked about his family and how much he was missing them, and how much he'd love to get back home to Nigeria. He wasn't into the circus at the ITas much as we were, but he knew that it was cool.

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