|Dr. Kwame Nkrumah at the birth of the OAU in 1963|
Source: Newafrican magazine via consultancy Africa blog
On Saturday 25 May 2013, the African Union (AU) turned 50 years old. Well, to be accurate, the forerunner of the AU, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) is actually what turned 50 years but that organization was dismantled in 2002 and replaced with the AU.
Anyway, back to the milestone. In honour of the occasion, I thought about a blog piece with links to Kwame Nkrumah's rousing African unity speech delivered in Addis Ababa in 1963. Interestingly, I could not find a link to the video or pictures of the event. To be honest, I see no reason for celebrating the AU at all. In terms of the nostalgic value, there are definitely reasons to celebrate. After all, the birth of the OAU in 1963 saw the best and brightest of the post-colonial African leaders coming together in unity to form a formidable organization uniting Africa. It was the dawn of a new era full of hope and the future was indeed bright. According to the OAU wikipedia page, the primary aims of the OAU were to:
- To promote the unity and solidarity of the African states and act as a collective voice for the African continent.
- To co-ordinate and intensify the co-operation of African states in order to achieve a better life for the people of Africa
- To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of African states.
- The OAU was also dedicated to the eradication of all forms of colonialism
With this list in mind, one can safely say that over the past 50 years, things did not go so smoothly for either Africa or the OAU. There have been military coup d'états, dictators, wars, conflict, colonial and neo-colonial incursions. Throughout the strife, the OAU/AU has not really had much impact. In reality, the OAU/AU is a case of being brilliant on paper but in reality, an organization without a spine or teeth. At the same time, parallel to the existence of the AU have been various regional organizations that seem to have had more impact. Examples of these include the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and also the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). So as the AU turns 50 years and we celebrate this feat, the question becomes, do we as Africans hang onto the AU for the nostalgic value or face reality that the AU is not really up to the mark? Any thoughts?