History | Editorial
Updated: Saturday, February 11, 2012
New York (TADIAS) – The forecourt of the recently inaugurated African Union building in Addis Ababa – a $200m complex funded by China as a gift to the AU – features a beautiful statue of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, one of the founders of the OAU. It is fitting that Dr. Nkrumah is honored for the role he played in African liberation struggles and the Pan African movement. It is also equally deserving and historically accurate to extend the recognition to other leaders who were involved in the formation of the organization.
On May 25, 1963, less than 22 years after Ethiopia fought and retained her independence from military occupation and annexation into the colony of Italian East Africa, several Heads of State from 32 newly independent African countries gathered in Addis Ababa. The meeting brought together various factions from across the continent that held differing views on how to achieve union among the emerging, decolonized African countries – an issue that also preoccupied the continent’s press and academics at the time.
(Photograph: The statue of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in Addis Ababa. Photo credit: us-africarelations updates)
One such promiment group, “The Casablanca bloc,” led by President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, argued for the federation of all African states. A second group of countries called “The “Monrovian bloc”, led by Léopold Senghor of Senegal, preferred a more gradual economic cooperation. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia offered a diplomatic solution and brokered the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now renamed the African Union (AU). The assembly settled its headquarters in Addis Ababa and entrusted Haile Selassie with the very first of its rotating chairmanships. Gamal Abdul Nassar of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana served as subsequent OAU leaders.
Today, however, we should not only remember the founders of the AU, but also embrace our modern day heros like Nelson Mandela who continue to give us renewed hope that ‘African union’ can be more than a name on a brick tower. By acknowledging our past legacy and embracing current inspiring leaders we can begin to set our sights on a new morning in Africa.
A Chinese gift, an Ethiopian omission and a screaming Shame (The Africa Report)
Ethiopians give lacklustre welcome to Kwame Nkrumah statue (The Independent)
AU’s lavish new home hit by statue row (Reuters)
Ethiopia’s Conundrum : A statue for Nkrumah or Selassie? (The Africa Report)
African Union opens Chinese-funded HQ in Ethiopia (BBC)
Video: President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana Unveils Nkrumah’s Statue In Addis Ababa