Before the formation of African unity in May 1963, there existed in Africa three rival groups or blocs, namely, The Brazzaville group, The Casablanca group and The Monrovia group, all of which advocated different approaches to securing independence for African countries which were still under colonial rule.
The Brazzaville group known as a moderate group advocated dialogue as an instrument for achieving political independence for African countries still under colonial rule; the Casablanca group known as a military group favored armed struggle as an instrument for securing independence from the colonial powers; the Monrovia group did not commit to either group, hoping to bring the two groups together.
The Monrovia group absorbed the Brazzaville group. Thus,in the run-up to the founding of the OAU, only the Monrovia and Casablanca groups existed. The Monrovia group agreed on the need for African states to join together in a loose association for mutual co-operation. The Casablanca group, on the other hand had advocated the formation of political union of African states. This proposal was however rejected by the Monrovia group.
Against the above background, thirty two heads of state and government held a series of conferences in May 1963, which led to the birth of the Organization of Africa Unity on 25th May,1963 in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia.
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was later replaced with the African Union AU) for various reasons. African leaders decided to replace the (O.A.U.) with the African Union because the O.A.U. lacked the political,economic and military muscle to handle the numerous problems facing the African continent including ethnic strife or conflicts,poverty,diseases,political instability and natural disasters. The ineffectiveness of the O.A.U. was realised in the face of the numerous problems including it’s inability to offer any help to Mozambique when it was overwhelmed by floods in the year 2000, among others.
The supporters of the African Union claimed that the O.A.U. had over the years developed into monstrous bureaucratic machinery that had clearly strayed from the vision envisaged for it by the founding fathers such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. The critics of the O.A.U. claimed that the old continental organization only answered to roll calls as it had become a toothless bulldog. The O.A.U also failed to protect the African citizens from autocratic political leaders.
At the extraordinary summit of the O.A.U. held at Sirte (Libya) in 1999, a decision was taken to transform the organization into an African Union. The union came into effect on 26 May 2001, following the ratification of the constitutive act of the union by majority of African states. The union has it’s headquarters at Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).The only African state that was not a member of the union at it’s inception was Morocco. The first chairman of the AU was president Thabo Mbeki of south Africa. The union was consummated at the 37th ordinary summit of the O.A.U. held in Lusaka in July 2001. Their aim is to achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the people of Africa.
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