In the first emotional display in his 13-day-old Africa tour, Andrew Young, today talked at a series of intense meetings with South African blacks and whites as an American black man, as a preacher from the deep South familiar with the fight against racism.
Since the opening of his eight-national tour, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has focused primarily on tactics - strengthening relations and outlining the Carter administration's new Africa policy.
He indicated before arriving in South Africa yesterday that this leg would be low key to avoid creating new controversies that would further strain U.S.South African relations.
But today, he opened his heart: Talking tough to liberal white students about their "cop out" plans to leave the country; rapping with blacks about his experience in the South as an example for their drive for change; warning editors that South Africans had "met their match" in Jimmy Carter, who is "every bit as tough as anybody here," and finally, in a gesture that typified the intense feelings of the day, singing the African nationalist anthem with Zulu tribal chief Gatsha Buthelezi.
Young later left for a visit to Zambia.
The impact was obvious: blacks mobbed Young as he left a U.S. sponsored meeting with members of South Africa's three nonwhite groups. They reached out through the heavy police guard to touch the controversial envoy.
The hectic day for the visibly exhausted ambassador began at a meeting with 22 black and white newspaper editors at the opulent home of South Africa's wealthies industrialist, Harry Oppenheimer.
Young expressed optimism about the U.S. role in pushing for change - despite last week's Vienna summit meeting when Prime Minister John Vorster defied pressure from U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale to give blacks "full participation" in government. Young told the editors, "I think Jimmy Carter is an Afrikaner," referring to the tough descendents of the 17th century Dutch settlers who now dominate the government.
"He comes out of that same rural, hard-nosed stock. He's been dealing with folks like Vorster all his life," Young said.
"I think you've met your match. We are not about to give up," he said with a broad grin on his face.
Then he went to lunch with a group of white students and professors. After some bitter arguments, Young chided them for talking too much about the country's problems and being trapped by what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the paralysis of analysis."
Young also charged that students were copping out about their future roles, referring to a recent survey showing that 65 per cent of English-speaking university students want to leave the country. "I think that's chicken," he said, adding, "there's really no place to go."
Young said he felt the same way about the American South not too long ago, but pointed to the changes liberals were able to bring about in the United States as a reason for South African students to stick it out.
The highlight of the day was a meeting with about 70 leading advocates of change at a local U.S. government office, one of the few public places blacks and whites can meet.
Young said the United States intended to "stay clse" to the situation here, but added: "I think about the only thing we can do is keep enough pressure on in many ways that will enable you, who are the leaders in a struggle for change within your society, to determine what should be a new and more just working relationship with the white minority."
He urged them to use methods like economic boycotts, as American blacks did in the 1950s and 1960s, to force white-run businesses to realize the importance of helping to improve living standards for blacks, "coloreds"
He drew tears from the audience when he talked about the transformation in American race relations during his lifetime - when the first prominent black athletes like Joe Lewis and Jesse Owens made headlines, and when black ambassadors first drove up in limousines during the early days of the United Nations.
"That's when I realized a nigger can be somebody," he said to a standing ovation.
Chief Buthelezi then approached the podium, embraced Young and told the audience:
"I have stated to many fellow South Africans that you are this country's best friend. I have said that all your efforts on the international scene are geared toward the peaceful resolvement of our problems. This is what tends to be forgotten in the anger that overcomes them."
The crowd then broke in to the African nationalist anthem "Inkosi Isikeleli Afrika" ancheered Young as he walked from the room.