Africa At the Crossroads: AU commemorates 54 years amidst challenges 23

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History is not as far removed from the crises afflicting Africa today as many people seem to think. Imperialism has fought against the continent’s genuine independence and socialist development over the last five decades. As Nkrumah said, independence was only the prelude to a tougher struggle for the right of Africans to conduct their affairs according to their own aspirations.

May 25 marks the 54th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union formed in 2002. This continental organization brings together independent nation-states and the still colonized territory of the Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation.

With the readmission of Morocco into the AU this year, some have begun to question the anti-colonial mission of the organization. The monarchy in Rabat has not made any commitment to the United Nations mandated and supervised elections aimed at granting the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic the right to determine its own destiny.

Some African states opposed the reentry of Morocco for this very reason. Either the organization firmly supports the rights of colonized peoples to self-determination or it does not. There is really no room for a middle-ground.

At the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963, the divisions were largely centered on the issues of the character of the African unification process. Should Pan-Africanism be a gradual process of the merging of regional entities or should it develop at a rapid pace?

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