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e artistt nati man speaking about The first generation of pan-African movement leaders mainly Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Haile Sellasie I, Jomo Kenyatta, and others have believed that a unified Africa was the only way to take the continent from A to B and that the border lines that were drawn by former colonialists were artificial demarcations between African people that needed to be abolished.

The only difference amongst these noble statesmen was the time and the how. The Casablanca group of countries, led by Nkrumah of Ghana, wanted an immediate unification. The Monrovia group, led by Nyerere of Tanzania, believed an immediate unification of Africa in 1960s was ideal but a gradual approach of unification with regional integration first followed by a continental unification was more practical.  Nkrumah wanted the United States of Africa ‘now, now’, whereas Nyerere was of the exact opposite. “Any number of African states uniting in any form – economically or politically, regionally or otherwise – was, for Nyerere, a step forward. Nkrumah believed, not unreasonably, that regional groupings and associations would make continental unity even more difficult” and fear that a “delay in political unity would expose individual African states to neocolonialist manipulations,” writes Issag Shivji, Professor of African studies in the University of Dar es Salaam.

As it turns out, Nyerere’s gradualist approach of African unification won the day when in 1963 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was formed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was the first attempt to make real the vision of a united Africa.

50 years later 

The OAU was disbanded in 2002 and was subsequently replaced by the African Union Commission (AUC). Today, including the newly declared independent state of South Sudan, Africa has 54 nations, but none of them (except for South Africa) are adequately represented in the international power distribution and the UN system. “If numbers were horses,” Nyerere once said, “Africa would be riding high!”

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