"I think Andy Young is different. It's surprising that he isn't pushing some line. It's so refreshing it almost makes you sispicious," said a young African politician.
The speaker was a member of one of the African delegations that new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young met with during four days in Tanzania.
Young flew to Lagos, Nigeria, today for a three-day visit, the final stop of his first diplomatic mission - a ten-day tour of Africa.
The question left in the minds of many blacks Young met with was how important he will be. A Somali official reflected the suspicion with which Africans view the United States after more than a decade of neglect: "I hope he isn't being used. We won't be tricked by one black face."
The young African politician who found Young "different" said that most Americans "hear us out . . . but then it doesn't seem to make much difference how we feel or what we say. One of the biggest complaints we've had about the Americans is that they always think they're right, even if it's our affair."
His remarks reflected the general reception Young has received on his African tour, during which he has held a series of talks with Africans leaders about a new U.S. role on the continent.
"Approachable," a Burundi official said about the former Georgia congressman. "Open, easy to talk to" a Zambian commented. "A man with principle and integrity," remarked a spokesman of the Southwest African People's Organization, the Nambian liberation movement.
But many of the delegates who like Young were in Zanzibar of celebrations marking the merger of Zanzibar's and Tanzania's political parties also reacted with caution.
"You Americans," one official sighed. "You think things are going to change overnight just because you send a black over here.
"Ambassador Young may have gotten Jimmy Carter elected president, but that doesn't mean he's going to work miracles in Africa. I believe he really wants to see majority rule in Rhodesia and South Africa and would like to see the United States help blacks achieve it.
"But he is not the Secretary of State and we still have to see how effective he can be. That is a slow process."
The press attache of one of the African leaders Young met pointed out that the American arrived in Africa just as the State Department was issuing a "clarification" of a Young remark that the Cubans in Angola could he viewed as a stabilizing influence. The statement said that Young's comment did not reflect official U.S. thinking.
"So what does that mean about what he is telling us? Are they personal views or do they really reflect what the Carter administration wants to do?" the attache queried.
Apparently Young and the five presidents he talked with in Zamzibar and Dar Es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital, did not come to any basic agreements. The individual sessions none more than an hour long, provided a basis for future talks, but did not result in any new strategy formulations.
A Young aide contended that he was "very pleased" with the sessions - despite the views of many observers that Young's reception by the Africans was less than called for by international protocol.
Young is well-known and respected in Africa. Even before his new job, he had traveled to more than a third of the continent's 50 countries. It has been publicized here that he rejected the U.N. assignment at first and reconsidered only because he thought he could help to strengthen U.S. African ties.
It has also been reported here recently that Young is taking care of the children of Robert Sobukwe, one of South Africa's leading black nationalists banned by the government.
Young has a hard job ahead in changing African attitudes.
A Zambian journalist said, "All his good actions and intentions cannot change the basic fact that the economic ties of your country help perpetuate white minority government in Africa. And that's a fact of life I can't see any administration in a capitalist society like yours changing very much."