The Organization of African Unity and the Rest of Africa

The Organization of African Unity and the Rest of Africa

Beginning with the independence of Ghana in 1957 under Kwame Nkrumah, Pan-Africanism, as a movement uniting all peoples of the African continent, was attempted in earnest. Pan-Africanism became identified with Nkrumah more than with any other African leader. During the period 1950 to 1965, the aim was to achieve political, cultural, and economic integration at the continental level.

Beginning in 1958 with formation of the Ghana-Guinea Union, followed shortly by the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union, Nkrumah relentlessly pursued his goal of a Union of African States. Working with leaders of other independent African countries, he convened a series of conferences to promote the Pan-African cause. Finally, a summit conference met in Addis Ababa in May 1963 to resolve the divisions, unite the leaders, and establish a common Pan-African organization.

After many proposals and counterproposals at the Addis Ababa conference, thirty African heads of states and governments signed the historic Charter of African Unity, which established the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The charter, however, fell far short of Nkrumah's ideal of African continental government. At practically every meeting of the OAU until his overthrow in 1966, Nkrumah continued to campaign vigorously but unsuccessfully for the transformation of the OAU into a continental government of a United States of Africa. Ironically, as independent African states concentrated on domestic problems and internal developments, they found themselves compelled to strengthen ties with their former colonial rulers rather than with each other. In Ghana's case, this meant closer relations with Britain, particularly after the overthrow of Nkrumah.

In recognition of Nkrumah's stature in the Pan-Africanist cause, PNDC chairman Rawlings in June 1985 dedicated the W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Center for Pan-African Culture in Accra. The DuBois center was established to serve as a Pan-African research center and library for scholars and students of Pan-Africanism and to promote research and scholarship in the tradition of the AfricanAmerican scholar, W.E.B. DuBois.

The PNDC made a determined effort to revive Ghana's historical role as a leader in the OAU and in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The PNDC stepped up material and financial assistance and diplomatic support to the OAU Liberation Committee, to the African National Congress in South Africa, and to the South West Africa People's Organization in South West Africa, now Namibia. In 1987 Ghana also became a member of the permanent steering committee of the OAU, which was charged with forging a common African position on the continent's debt problem. The same year Ghana made a substantial financial contribution of US$5 million to the African Fund set up by the Non-Aligned Movement to assist African liberation movements and to strengthen resistance to South African destabilization activities in southern Africa. The PNDC also contributed US$1.3 million annually to the OAU budget. Ghana contributed generously to the OAU's Liberation Fund for Namibia as well as US$5 million to the African Fund for the repatriation of Namibians to enable them to participate in preindependence elections in February 1990.

The PNDC regime sought to strengthen ties with all African countries. Good relations with the countries of eastern and southern Africa were established in the spirit of south-south relations, Pan-Africanism, and nonalignment. In addition to visiting many West African countries, Rawlings traveled to Mozambique in October 1986 for the funeral of Samora Machel. Ghana's contribution of US$250,000 toward famine relief in Mozambique was a practical demonstration of commitment to the principles of the OAU. In late January 1989, Rawlings paid a threeday official visit to Uganda on the occasion of the third anniversary of the government's victory in a long civil war. He also visited Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Ghana's political and diplomatic resurgence in Africa and in world affairs under PNDC leadership was evident from the number of reciprocal visits to promote bilateral ties and cooperation. Among those visiting Ghana between 1987 and 1994 were Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda; Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni; former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, who received Ghana's highest state award, the Order of the Star of Ghana, in recognition of his life-long devotion to Pan-Africanism and the nonaligned movement; Libyan Colonel Muammar al Qadhafi; and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. In September 1994, President Rawlings paid a ten-day visit to Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, signing bilateral agreements in the latter two countries for political cooperation, trade, and industrial development. Ghanaian diplomats are expected to arrive in Pretoria, the Republic of South Africa, in early 1995 to open Ghana's new High Commission.

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