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Historical Background of the African Union

Historical Background of the African Union


The creation of the African Union as a new Pan-African body is not a sudden happening that has not been anticipated in The African history. It was rather a result of the age-old process of pan-African movements in different courses of history. No one can dare to have a full-fledged figure of the historical roots of the African Union without paying much attention to the Pan-African movements, which may be considered as a founding stone of the OAU, the African Union and any other forthcoming political and economic integration between and among The African states. The spirit of Pan-Africanism has been used as an engine for the creation of cooperation of African peoples and states in different generations, and is expected to be the same in the future.


Having regard to the instrumental character of Pan-Africanism in any form of African solidarity, it seems imperative to define what it is. A Martini, in his includes this in the reference last. defined Pan as Africanism follows manner:


Pan-Africanism is an invented notion. It is an invented nation with a purpose…. Essentially, Pan-Africanism is a recognition of the fragmented nature of the existence of African’s, their marginalization and alienation whether in their own continent or in the Diaspora. Pan-Africanism seeks to respond to Africa’s underdevelopment. Africa has been exploited and a culture of dependency on external assistance unfortunately still prevails on the continent. If people become too reliant on getting their support, their nourishment, their safety from outside sources, then they do not strive to find the power within themselves to rely on their own capacities. Pan-Africanism calls upon Africans to drawn from their own strength and capacities and become self reliant. Pan-Africanism is a recognition that the only way out of this existential, social and political crisis is by prompting greater solidarity amongst Africans.


As can be inferred from the above quotation, Pan-Africanism is neither a name of an African organization; nor an ideal imagination of what Africa should be in the future. It is rather an engine for a continued African solidarity and integration that can spur the effectiveness of Afro-Centric regional integrations. It has served as such in different times in history.


The idea of Pan-Africanism would remain futile unless it is capable of taking an institutional form. It can be said that Pan-Africanism has so far undergone three phases of institutionalization. By institutionalization we are referring to the coming up of an organization that claims to further the ideals enshrined in the Pan-African movement.


The first institutionalization of Pan-Africanism is the series of Pan-African Congresses. In describing this form of institutionalization, Martini stated ‘Depending on how one chooses to interpret or define Pan-Africanism, the first attempt to institutionalize If the goatali is  more them three gives, it has to follow the standardized from of quoting it Pan-Africanism can be situated either at the 1896 Congress on Pan-Africanism held in Chicago or at the creation of the African association in London in 1997. In both instances, the term ‘Pan-African’ was widely used to signify the coming together of people of African descent”.


In 1900, the first Pan-African conference was held in London where a new organization called the Pan-African Association was established with the objective of securing the rights of the African descendants. From that time on wards, up to seven Pan-African congresses were held in Europe and Africa with similar objectives of creating African solidarity.


Discussion Questions



The second institutionalization of Pan-Africanism came with the inauguration of the OAU in 1963. This achievement witnessed a greater commitment on the part of the African states to the Pan-African movement which served as a deriving force for such occurrence. This historical trend goes ahead with the third institutionalization of Pan-Africanism under the existing African Union.


One might dare to internalize the proper link between the aforementioned institutionalizations of Pan-Africanism. In connection with this issue, Martini Timothy has the following to say. The fundamental insight gained from the emergence of the  organized Pan-Africanism is that the power of individual country or society is amplified exponentially when it is combined with the forces of other countries and societies. It is a similar way of thinking that animated and informed the founders of the OAU and the present African union. This same type of thinking is potentially expected to animate and inform future generations of Africans and their Diaspora to be  kin in promoting ever-increasing social, political and economic union.


Making the Pan-African movement a stepping-stone in the study of historical antecedents to the contemporary African Union has a lot to serve. If one knows the purpose of Pan- Africanism, then the steps to achieve its goals become clearer to understand it is in this context that one can be able to appreciate the emergence and concretization of the African Union. Considering the African Union as a new phenomenon that came into picture in the beginning of the 21st century is a regrettable historical mistake that can in no way give one a full-fledged historical picture of the Union. It would be more appropriate, to understand that the African Union is not a new happening, but the latest incarnation of the idea of Pan-Africanism. It is with this idea in mind that one can better understand the beginning and destiny of the African Union. The forthcoming sections of this chapter are not as exclusive to one another but as continuations of the historical antecedents mentioned above and henceforth.

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