Signs of a surging black African resentment over Arab and Moslem support for the embattled Ugandan leader Idi Amin surfaced here in Zambia this past week with a barrage of violent press attacks on Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi.
The criticism of Libyan policy highlights one of the larger issues involved in the current struggle for Uganda, namely the bold Arab bid to push Moslem inflence deep into Christian black Africa by supporting even a ruthless and internationally discredited leader like Amin.
The extent to which Amin had come to rely on Arab support for his survival is nowhere better illustrated than in Kampala today, where Libyan and Palestine troops have been left to defend the besieged city against attacking Ugandan exiles while the field marshal's own army has apparently mostly fled the capital or defected.
Amin's fall seems likely to deliver a severe blow not only to the prestige of Libyan leader Qaddafi but also to the cause of Islam in black Africa.
In a blistering editorial, the Zambian government newspaper Daily Mail today warned Qaddafi that "black Africa cannot forgive him" for his support of "a murderer and usurper of human dignity-Amin."
"To him [Qaddafi] the only people who deserve freedom and human dignity are Moslems," it continued. "Qaddafi seems to belong to a clan of blood-thirsty slave-trading Arabs who had not the slightest respect for other human beings."
Incensed by Qaddafi's ultimatum to Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere earlier this week to get his troops out of Uganda in 24 hours, the Zambian daily said: "Black Africa will not stand insults from this spineless Arab leader called Qaddafi."
Zambian bitterness about the Libyan role in Uganda is shared by many black African countries like Zambia and Tanzania that are predominantly Christian and extremely wary of Arab and Moslem Motives.
In a way their worst fears have been confirmed by seeing the Libyans, Saudis, Egyptians and Palestinians provide troops, arms, money and advisers to Amin's Moslem minority government, throught to have murdered somewhere between 500,000 and 200,000 Ugandans, the vast majority of them Christians.
Amin built his now crumbling power base on Uganda's tiny Moslem population, representing less than 6 percent of the 10 to 11 million people, and on his own Kakwa tribe of 50,000 living in the remote West Nile Province near the Zairian and Sudanese borders.
Uganda, however, is one of the most Christianized nations of black Africa. Around 35 percent of the population is Catholic and 28 percent Protestant, the rest being animists. At the beginning of his bloody reign, there were more than 1,400 Christian missionaries working in Uganda.
His favoritism toward the Moslems in Uganda and harassment of Christians became the hallmark of his eight-year rule.
When Amin expelled with so much fanfare 40,000 Asians from Uganda in 1972, he handed over most of their 2,000 to 3,000 shops to Ugandan Moslems and Libyans. After physically eliminating officers and soldiers of the dissident Acholi and Langi tribes from his army, he enrolled Moslems to take their place.
He got at least $10 million dollars from Saudi Arabia alone to promote the Moslem religion and helped himself to state funds for the same purpose as well.
He set up in June 1972 a Moslem Supreme Council, giving it offices in Kampala next to his own. Mosques, schools and hospitals run by the expelled Asians were given to the council to run.
At the same time, he harassed in various ways the Christian churches, constantly accusing their leaders and missionaries of fomenting opposition to his government.
When the Anglican archbishop of Uganda Janani Luwum, led a protest movement against his notorious violation of human rights in 1977, the Anglican leader was arrested and dragged before a mob of Amin's soldiers who shouted for his death. The next day, Amin announced that the bishop had died in a "motor accident" together with several top government officials.
Within days of coming to power in 1971, Amin flew off to Israel, which had provided military assistance to the Ugandan Army, trained him as a para-trooper and almost certainly helped him to engineer his coup. Six months later he had a falling out with the Israelis, then turned to the Arab states for support and secured Qaddafi's help on the condition that he cut all ties with Israel.
From then on, he was a devotee of the Arab cause and the most vocal critic of Zionism in black Africa.
He made several trips to Mecca and befriended the late Saudi king Faisal, who like Qaddafi visited Uganda in 1973. When Faisal died in April 1975, Amin was the one black African leader who attended the funeral.
He had also shown up on the Arab front lines during the Arab-Israeli war of October 1973.
The Arabs, in return, financed increasingly his faltering economy and bankrupt government, probably pumping in well above $100 million. The Saudis gave him $30 million just to host the 1975 summit of the Organization of African Unity in Kampala. Many other Saudi loans were forth-coming and it is probable that it was Saudi funds that helped Amin buy so much Soviet heavy military equipment in 1975.
The most significant Libyan aid was always military, although Qaddafi did establish a joint Libyan-Ugandan development bank.
When Ugandan exiles in Tanzania attempted to overthrow Amin in September 1972, Qaddafi rushed troops and military supplies to Kampala.
Their arrival was delayed until after the crisis was over because the Libyan planes carrying the troops and supplies were intercepted and forced to land in the Sudan.
In the current crisis, the Libyan leader has again rushed to Amin's rescue, sending an estimated 1,500 troops to Uganda.
In doing so Qaddafi has become the focus of Zambian and Tanzanian ire.
"Black Africa is unlikely to forget the insulting behavior of Libya's ruler , Col. Qaddafi," remarked the Zambian party newspaper, the Times of Zambia, in an editorial Thursday.
Qaddafi's insult to Nyerere and his effort to keep Amin in power "will undoubtedly alienate Libya from decent African states for many years."
"Is it a twisted idea that resurgent Islam must seek to dominate any country that purports to be Moslem?" it asked. "If so, then Qaddafi knows little of Uganda, which is overwhelmingly Christian."