Sunday, June 25, 2017

Formation of the OAU and the Future of Africa

Formation of the OAU and the Future of Africa
The Organization of the African Unity (OAU) was formed on May 25, 1963 in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia. The OAU Charter was a compromise between three main groups: the Casablanca group, Monrovia, and Brazzaville. The Casablanca group was the first to be formed. It was made up of UAR, Morocco, Libya, Ghana, Guinea, and the Algerian Govenrment in Exile. This group called for political union and the total liberation of Africa. The Monrovia Group was made up of Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, and Liberia. The Monrovia group called for a loose collaboration between African states. The Brazzaville group was the third and last' it was made up of former French speaking African countries including, Ivory Coast and Madagascar. Tanzania (then Tanganyika) shifted alligiance from the Casablanca and eventually to the Monrovia group. The heads of states were divided when they sat down to discuss the establishment of an African organization. A committee was eventually formed and Oscar Kambona, the Tanganyika Foreign Minister, was elected to Chair the committee tasked with drafting a charter for the new organization. Three proposals were presented. The Casablanca group was led by Ghana. Nigeria presented a second proposal that was part of the larger Monrovia group, although they had formed a smaller group known as the "Lagos Group." Ethiopia presented the third proposal. The representative from Ghana called for the immediate formation of the United States of Africa. The Nigerian delegate responded by saying "We should walk before we ran" and proposed a loose organization of African states. The Casablanca proposal for establishing the "United States of Africa" was defeated during the voting. The so-called Lagos group and Tanganyika went on to propose a clause calling for respect for the integrity of existing boundaries. Many Pan Africanist assert that this clause killed any hope for the establishment of the United States of Africa. Other Pan Africanists maintain that it was premature to call for the immediate formation of the United States of Africa. Either way, leaders from independent African nations and liberation movements went to Ethiopia in May of 1963 to witness the formation of the OAU. This was an important moment for Africa; an opportunity for Africa to work towards forging meaningful political unity and fighting to liberate Africans. While the campaign for building political unity failed, the goal of ending colonialism and apartheid was a success; this success was achieved by the committment of a handful of African countries without the support of the majority of OAU members. Today a new organization has taken the place of OAU: African Unity (AU). Although Africa succeeded in eradicating foreign political rule, neo-colonialism and imperialism remains strong today more than ever. Africa is divided and the shift towards further disintegration is on the horizon. Even countries that once appeared to be stable, show signs of breaking up to smaller entities. One of the richest continents in the world remains one of the poorest. We have learned today from the Tanzanian President that one foreign company (ACACIA) has extracted close to an estimated $70 billion in gold and other minerals from Tanzania while paying pennies in taxes in a period of about 18 years. Some say the ammount is equivalent to the budget of Tanzania for six years. I ask myself why, why, why? What good is this "political" independence without economic independence? If one company is able to do this, what else is happening in other sectors? If this is happening to Tanzania, what is happening to Niger, Angola, Ethiopia, Mauritania, and other African countries? The answer is probably the same. It is time to wake up and start a new phase of the struggle. There are no simple solutions. But together we can!

© Azaria Mbughuni

1 comment:

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