The aims and objectives of the OAU, as outlined in the OAU Charter, were to promote the unity and solidarity of African states; coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa; safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States; rid the continent of colonisation and apartheid; promote international cooperation within the United Nations framework; and harmonise the political, diplomatic, economic, educational, cultural, health, welfare, scientific, technical and defence policies of member states.
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This post will explain each of the aims and objectives of the OAU. You can use these notes as a guide for an essay on the objectives of the OAU. See below a WAEC Government past question on this topic.
Highlight six aims of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU)
Summary of the Aims of the OAU
- The OAU aimed to promote African Unity
- To respect and protect the sovereignty of African states (principle of non-interference)
- It wanted to rid the continent of colonialism, neo-colonialism and apartheid
- To promote cooperation between African states
- Promote international cooperation and understanding within the United Nations
- To harmonize national policies as a means to improve the welfare of Africans in the areas of education, health, sanitation, science and technology, defence and security.
It is now time for us to briefly explain each one of the objectives of the OAU.
1. To Promote African Unity
Right from its inception, the Organization of African Unity made it clear that its primary goal was to maintain unity among all African states. The name of the organization says it all. The founding fathers of the OAU believed that Africa needed to present a united front in its fight against imperialism and neo-colonialism.
With political unity, Africa would then be in a position to fight against widespread poverty, disease and economic underdevelopment.
It was for this same purpose that Kwame Nkrumah wrote a book with the title Africa Must Unite as his contribution to the quest for African unity.
2. To Protect the Sovereignty of African States
The protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of African states was among the objectives of the OAU. This aim remains the same even after the OAU was replaced by the African Union (AU). The member states of the OAU had just finished a bitter fight for their political independence from their colonial masters. They, therefore, wanted to make sure that each member state was able to determine its own future without undue external interference.
3. To Rid the Continent of Colonialism and Apartheid
At the time of the formation of the OAU on May 25 1963, many African territories were still under colonial rule. In fact, there were only 32 independent African states present at the inaugural ceremony held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Again, the evil policy of racial segregation in Apartheid South Africa was still a thorny issue on the continent. It was not, therefore, unsurprising that the objectives of the OAU included the aim to deal a final blow to the vestiges of colonial rule and Apartheid.
The OAU had succeeded in this objective. So, today, all the 55 African states are breathing an air of freedom. They are all independent member states of the new African Union (AU).
4. To Promote Cooperation Among African Countries
The OAU also made it a priority to foster friendly relations between African countries and the rest of the world. It reckoned that cooperation among African countries was the best way to harness the continent’s social and economic resources for the betterment of the lives of all African people.
5. To Promote International Cooperation
Key among the aims and objectives of the OAU was the promotion of cooperation among the nations of the world within the framework of the United Nations. African leaders at the time realized that without international peace and understanding, the continent’s efforts at development would be in vain.
6. Improvement in the Welfare of Member States
Above all, the OAU member-nations aimed to harness the material and human resources of the continent to better the lives of their citizens. The aim was to harmonize the various national policies in such areas as education, health, sanitation, defence, science and technology.
It is clear that the aims and objectives of the OAU as spelt out in the OAU Charter tackled both internal and external issues. Most of these aims are as relevant today as they were at the founding of the organization. Indeed, at the time the OAU was scrapped and replaced by the AU on July 9 2002 in Durban, South Africa, at least one of these objectives had been largely achieved. The continent has succeeded in its effort to rid itself of colonial rule and apartheid. It is now left in the hands of its successor, the African Union to keep working on the remaining objectives.
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