Organization of African Unity
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) or Organisation de l'Unité Africaine (OUA) was established on May 25, 1963. It was disbanded July 9, 2002 by its last chairperson, South African Thabo Mbeki and replaced by the African Union.
Its intended purpose was to promote the unity and solidarity of the African States and act as a collective voice for the continent. This was important to secure Africa's long-term economic and political future. Years of colonialism had weakened it in both respects.
The OAU was also dedicated to the eradication of colonialism, as there was still a number of states that hadn't yet won their independence. South Africa and Angola were two such countries. A Liberation Committee was established to aid independence movements and look after the interests of already-liberated states. The OAU also aimed to stay neutral in terms of global politics, which would prevent them from being controlled once more by outside forces -- an especial danger with the Cold War.
The OAU had other aims, too, though:
• Ensure that all Africans enjoyed human rights.
• Raise the living standards of all Africans.
• Settle arguments and disputes between members -- not through fighting but rather peaceful, diplomatic negotiation.
Soon after achieving independence, a number of African states expressed a growing desire for more unity within the continent. Not everyone was agreed on how this unity should be achieved. Two opinionated groups emerged in this respect:
• The Casablanca bloc, led by Nkrumah of Ghana, wanted a federation of all African countries. Aside from Ghana, it comprised also Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Egypt Mali and Libya.
• The Monrovian bloc, led by Senghor of Senegal, felt that unity should be achieved gradually, through economic cooperation. It did not support the idea of a political federation. Its other members were Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia and most of the French-speaking nations.
The dispute was resolved when Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I invited both groups to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the OAU's headquarters were established. The Charter of the Organisation was signed by 32 independent African states, among them members of the Casablanca Group, founded in 1961 and composed of "progressive states". At the time of its disbanding, 53 out of the 54 states in Africa were members; Morocco left on November 12, 1984 following the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as the government of Western Sahara. in 1982.
The organisation was widely derided as a bureaucratic "talking shop" with little power. It struggled to enforce its decisions, and its lacking an army made intervention exceedingly difficult. Civil wars in Nigeria and Angola continued unabated for years.
The policy of non-interference in the affairs of member states did not help either. Thus, when human rights were violated, as in Uganda under Idi Amin in the 'seventies, the OAU was powerless to stop them.
The OAU was praised, however, by Ghanaian former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for bringing Africans together. Nevertheless, in its 39 years of existence critics argue that the OAU did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders, often dubbing it the Absolutist kings and "Dictators' Club" or "Dictator's Trade Union".
The OAU was successful in some respects. Many of its members were members of the UN, too, and they stood together within the latter organisation to safeguard the African interests -- especially in respect of lingering colonialism.
Total unity was difficult to achieve, however, as the OAU was largely divided. The French colonies, still dependant on France, formed their own group, and there was a further split between those groups which supported the USA and those which supported the USSR in the Cold War of ideologies. The pro-Socialist faction was led by Kwame Nkrumah; Houphouet-Biogny of the Ivory Coast led the pro-capitalists. Because of these divisions, it was difficult for the OAU to take action against states involved in internal conflict because it could rarely reach an agreement on what was to be done.
The OAU played a pivotal role in eradicating colonialism. It gave weapons, training and military bases to colonised nations. Groups such as the ANC and PAC, fighting apartheid, and ZANU and ZAPU, fighting for the independence of Rhodesia, were much aided in their endeavours by the OAU. African harbours were closed to the South African government, and South African planes were prohibited from flying over the rest of the continent. The UN was convinced to expel South Africa from bodies such as the World Health Organisation.
The OAU also worked with the UN to ease the refugee problem. It set up the African Development Bank for economic projects to make Africa financially stronger. Although most African countries eventually won their independence, however, it was still very difficult for them to remain totally independent from their former colonisers. They often still relied on them for economic aid, which generally came attached with strings: loans had to be paid back at a high interest rate, and goods had to be sold at especially low rates. Help was sometimes provided in the form of technology and workers. While useful, this was not necessarily in the former colonies' best interests.
Autonomous specialised agencies working under the auspices of the OAU were:
• Pan-African Telecommunications Union (PATU)
• Pan-African Postal Union (PAPU)
• Pan-African News Agency (PANA)
• Union of African National Television and Radio Organisations (URTNA)
• Union of African Railways (UAR)
• Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU)
• Supreme Council for Sports in Africa
• 1 List of Secretaries-general of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and African Union (AU) Chairs of the Commission
• 2 List of Chairs of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) & African Union (AU)
• 3 OAU Summits
• 4 OAU members by date of admission (53 states)
Molefi Kete Asante · Nnamdi Azikiwe · Steve Biko · Francis Ohanyido · Edward Wilmot Blyden · Amílcar Cabral · David Comissiong · Cheikh Anta Diop · W. E. B. Du Bois · Frantz Fanon · Muammar al-Gaddafi · Marcus Garvey · Yosef Ben-Jochannan · Sankofa Juba · Maulana Karenga · Kenneth Kaunda · Jomo Kenyatta · Akwatu Khenti · Patrice Lumumba · Bob Marley · Malcolm X · Thabo Mbeki · Zephania Mothopeng · Abdias do Nascimento · Kwame Nkrumah · Julius Nyerere · George Padmore · Dr Motsoko Pheko · John Nyathi Pokela · Runoko Rashidi · Walter Rodney · Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia · Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe · Burning Spear · Henry Sylvester-Williams · Ahmed Sékou Touré · Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) · I.T.A. Wallace-Johnson · Omali Yeshitela
United States of Africa · Afrocentrism · Kwanzaa · Pan-African colours · Pan-African flag · Négritude · African nationalism · African socialism · African Century · Africanization · Kawaida
Organizations and movements
African Union (OAU) · AAPRP · Uhuru Movement · UNIA-ACL · AllAfrica.com · African Unification Front · African diaspora
Posted By: Kpoto Austin - Liberia