The book cover shows a salivating hyena in military uniform, a skull insignia on his cap and ribbons and medals covering his chest. The reference is plain: an unflattering caricature of Field Marshal Idi Amin, the self-proclaimed president for life of neighboring Uganda.

This paperback, just issued by a humor magazine here, and daily letters and editorials in the local newspapers show the deep disgust people here feel for Amin.

But this feeling has not emerged in any official statement of government condemnation - here or in any other black African country - over Amin's reign of terror, which has brought painful death to uncounted thousands of Ugandans and caused thousands of others to flee.

"Where is the voice of Africa?" the Nairobi newspaper The Nation asked in an editorial last month.

"The whole world has come out in outspoken and undisguised condemnation of the savage killings in Uganda, to which the Anglican archbishop and two Cabinet ministers were put to death. The demands for international action against the regime of President Idi Amin are still being heard and will continue, but where is the voice of Africa?" the editorial continued.

Although the African heads of state generally snubbed Amin during the just-completed Afro-Arab summit conference in Cairo, the closest any of them has come to publicly condemning him is through editorials in state-controlled newspapers in countries such as Tanzania.But most African governments have not done even that.

"African countries try not to criticize their neighbors on human-rights violations because they are open to the same type of criticism," said one source who has lived in various African countries for the past eight years.

"Lift that rock and a lot of things will come crawling out," added another long-time observer of African politics. "Every country has humanrights violations, but most are not as gross as Uganda's."

Ethiopia, for example, has sacked villages, killing the occupants, of tribes unfriendly to the government. Even Kenya, one of the most enlightened governments on the continent, has political murders and repressive measures in its history.

The newspapers here, however, have not been silent on Amin: Every day they carry new reports - coming mostly from refugees - of atrocities committed by Amin's personal police against the predominantly Christian Acholi and Langi tribes.

Most of the news of Uganda comes through these refugee reports, since correspondents are rarely allowed into that country.When they do get in, as a group did last weekend, they are herded in groups and allowed to see only what Amin wants them to.

Amin attacked the regugee reporto Saturday, saying the Ugandan exiles "were corrupt in the first place and fled to escape the machinery of law. They are now, in bitterness, wallowing in cheap whisky and without any other profession except rumor-mongering."

Still, most Africans tend to believe the refugee reports rather than Amin.

A letter to the Nation, signed a "disappointed Ugandan," said: "Amin's minority regime is worse than Vorster's [of south African] or Ian Smith's [of Rhodesia] in southern Africa."

Columnist Joe Kadhi of The Sunday Nation said this week that "when the racists in southern Africa argue that Africans are not fit to run a government they point a finger at uganda to prove their claims." He continued: "More Africans have been killed in Uganda than those who have lost their lives under Ian Smith.

The paperback with the salivating hyena is a bit more subtle.The book by Alumido Osinya says in its foreword that there is no better way of talking about "the rape of Africa by Africans themselves" than the traditional "why" or "how" animal story.

"Now, perhaps more than ever, when ruthless military dictators are the order of the day and shoot human beings as easily as they shoot the elephants in the national parks, now really is the time to try the mild, gentle way."

The use of a hyena is particularly symbolic to Africans. It is considered an insult in this part of the world, and means someone who devours without attention to the needs of his family or neighbors.