The Organization of African Unity (OAU) – was originally established in order to accelerate the decolonization and prepare an economic union of the continent. In Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) 30 independent nations met and signed the Charter of the Organization between 22nd - 25th of May 1963. On this occasion, the African Liberation Committee was also set up, with its base in Dar es Salaam. It was meant to help the movements that were still fighting for independence. In July 1964, Guinean Diallo Telli was chosen as the General Secretary of OAU. The summit underlined the inviolability of the boarders founded by colonists. In the years 67’- 69’, the civil war in Nigeria was the main topic of the deliberations and finally stonewalled the activities of the organization.
In January 1976 the first extraordinary summit of Angola ended unsuccessfully. More failures followed. In 1982 the meeting in Tripoli was cancelled twice, due to the lack of quorum. Morocco and 18 other countries boycotted the summit because Polisario Front (Western Sahara) had been invited. There was also a problem with the representation of Chad. These two issues polarized Africans and almost brought the organization down. In 1984 Polisario took part as a fully-fledged member for the first time, which resulted in Morocco’s immediate withdrawal from OAU. The years 85’ – 87’ were dominated by drought and debt. On the other hand, in the summer of 1986, OAU strengthened the campaign against the Republic of South Africa and its apartheid policies. Four years later, Nelson Mandela was the star of the opening of the summit in Ethiopia, and Namibia was welcomed as the 51st member of the Organization.
After conferences in Sirt- Libya (1999), Lome- Togo (2000), Lusaka- Zambia (2001) and finally in Durban in 2002, the African Union (AU) was established. Today it represents 53 countries from the continent, apart from Morocco.
One can ask whether this change is only a nip-and-tuck or a real instrument against marginalization of the continent. Time alone will tell. Certainly, villages in Madagascar, Gambia, Eritrea or Guinea are hoping for meaningful change; so too fishermen in Senegal or farmers in Sudan. Counter to proverb that hope often blinks at fools, I am hoping for better tomorrow.
Africa Day reminds us of these dreams in Addis Ababa. Back then, only 30 of the freshly freed territories believed in the future. Today the whole world will celebrate and sympathize with Africa. Our Warsaw has been invited to this happy train. Even we will be the first to celebrate on the 24th of May. You are more than welcome to join us at the station at Palac Kultury. Let’s take seats in the first car. There will be room for everyone.
Text by Mamadou Diouf.
Translated by ate.