UGANDA: Amin:The Wild Man of Africa

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The fact is that Amin seems to be in fairly firm control of his army, and no force is prepared to do him in for the sake of humanity. Other black African countries are ambivalent about him. A few African leaders, notably Tanzania's Julius Nyerere and Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda, have spoken out strongly against Amin; the majority find him a terrible embarrassment but have remained silent. They realize that Amin's buffoonery has sometimes obscured a far more serious problem, the black-white struggle in southern Africa, and has given the white governments of Rhodesia and South Africa an easy excuse for condemning black leadership. But few countries in Africa, or indeed in the Third World, are prepared to oppose Amin openly. Last week the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, meeting in Geneva, debated Britain's demand for action on the murders in Uganda for three days; but Uganda's representative managed to block all motions and resolutions.

The British have long since learned that they cannot do anything about Amin. At the moment, they are concerned about a related problem: how to keep him from paying them an unwanted visit. Like other Commonwealth leaders, Amin plans to attend a meeting of Commonwealth nations in London next June. Prime Minister Callaghan has promised to see if the 35 other Commonwealth governments would tolerate Amin's presence, and he devoutly hopes that those leaders will themselves disinvite their colleague. Characteristically, Big Daddy has already let it be known that he will bring a retinue of 250 people, including a dance troupe called "Heartbeat of Africa." "I will definitely go to London," he said last week, adding that he felt certain that the Queen would be terribly disappointed if he stayed away. In response to this generous offer, Buckingham Palace could emit only a dignified shudder.

Big Surprise. Undaunted, supremely cocky, Amin late last week seemed to have got over his pique at Jimmy Carter, and set out to assure the world that his intentions toward the hostage Americans were strictly benign. He invited several British newsmen to Kampala to see for themselves that all was peaceful in his country. On their way back to Entebbe airport, they were overtaken by Big Daddy himself, who insisted that they ride with him. Along the way, he explained that Washington had foolishly overreacted to his provocation. Nevertheless he had a big surprise for President Carter. At the Monday meeting with the American residents of Uganda, Amin would welcome them, he would give medals and citations and would exhort them to continue their fine work in behalf of Uganda.

Once more, Big Daddy had behaved true to form. "He always acts the same way," reflected a leading Ugandan exile in Tanzania. "He threatens a group of foreigners, and then he says everything is O.K. Then he threatens them again, and then he says everything is O.K. The foreign government dances back and forth—and everyone forgets about the thousands of Ugandans who are dying."

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