OSAGYEFO KWAME NKRUMAH
ADDRESS AT THE ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY FIRST SUMMIT MEETING
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, MAY 25, 1963
What are we waiting for... What are we waiting for in Africa? Are we looking for mere charters
conceived in the light of the United Nations' exemple, the type of the United Nations
organization, whose decisions are framed on the basis of resolutions that, in our experience,
are sometimes being ignored by member states, where groupings are formed and pressure
develops in accordance with the interest of the group's consent or is it intended that
Africa should be turned into a loose organization of states, on the model of the
Organization of American States in which the weaker states within it can be at the mercy
of the stronger or more powerful ones politically and economically and all at the mercy
of some powerful outside nation or group of nations?
Your Excellencies, is this the kind of association we want for ourselves in the United
Africa we all speak of with such feeling and emotion?
Your Excellencies, permit me to ask, is this the kind of framework we desire for a united
Africa, an arrangement which in the future would permit Ghana or Nigeria or the Sudan or
Liberia or Egypt or Ethiopia for example to use pressure with either superior economic or
political influence, to decide the growth and direction of trade, say, for Burundi or Togo
or Nyassaland, Oubangi, and Madagascar? We all want a united Africa, united not only in the
concept of what unity connotes, but united in our common desire to move forward together
in dealing with all the problems than can best be solved only on the continent.
Sir, when the Congress, the first Congress of the United States met many years ago in
Philadelphia, one of the delegates sounded the first call of unity by declaring that they
had not... they had met in a state of nature. In other words, they were not in Philadelphia
as Virginians, or Pennsylvanians, but simply as Americans. This reference to themselves
as Americans was in those days a new and strange experience, but may I dare to effect,
equally on this occasion, Your Excellencies, that we meet here today, not as Ghanaians,
Guineans, Egyptians or Algerians, Moroccans, Malians, Liberians, Congolese, or Nigerians,
but as Africans.
Africans united in our resort to remain here until we have agreed on the basic principles
of a new pact of unity among ourselves. We guarantee for us and our future a new arrangement
for continental government. If we, if we succeed in establishing a new set of principles
as a basis for a new charter or status for the establishment of a continental unit of Africa
and the creation of social and political progress for our people, then imagine, this
conference should mark the end of our various groupings and divisional blocks. But if we fail,
and let this grand and historic opportunity slip by, then we shall give way to greater
dissension and division among us for which the people, the masses of the people of Africa,
will never forgive us, and the people and progressive forces and movements within Africa
will condemn us surely. I'm sure, therefore, that we shall not fail them.
Your Excellencies, I have spoken at length because it is necessary for us all to explain,
not only to one another present here, but also to our people who have instructed us, the
fate and destiny of the African continent. We must therefore not leave this place until
we have set up and effective machinery for achieving African unity. To this end, I now
propose for your consideration for, as requested, Your Excellencies, a declaration of
principles uniting and banding us together and to which we must all faithfully and loyally
adhere and lay the foundation of unity herein set down. And there should also be a formal
declaration that all the independent African states here and now agree to the establishment
of a union of African states.
The second, an urgent state for the realization of unification of Africa and all African
committees or foreign ministries for the sake of now, and that, before we rise from this
conference a day should be picked for them to meet.
This committee should establish on behalf of the heads of our governments a permanent body
of judicial experts to work out a machinery for the union government of Africa. This body
of judicial and experts should be made up of one or two of the best brains from each
independent African states.
The various charters of the existing groups and other relevant documents could rather be
subject to official experts working under the hegemony of committee of a foreign ministry
and a procedure consisting of the heads of governments of independent African states
should be called upon to meet and adopt a constitution. A constitution, another
recommendation which would launch the government of Africa.
We must also decide on a location where this body of officials and experts will work as
the new headquarters of our union government. Some central place in Africa might be the
apparent suggestion. From my view, either at Bangui in the Central African Republic or
in Leopoldville in the Congo. Officials will go there. And we shall support them. My
colleagues may have other proposals...
The committees of foreign officials and experts should be empowered because we have to
waste no time to establish: 1) a commission to frame a constitution for the union
government of African states; 2) A commission to work out a continent-wide plan for the
united or common economic and industriall program for Africa. This plan should include
setting up a common market for Africa and African currency, African monetary union,
Africa's central bank. A continental communication system... 3) A commission to draw up
duties for common foreign policy and diplomacies. A commission to produce plan for a
common system of dependence. A commission to make proposals for a common African
citizenship. These commissions will report to the committee of foreign ministers who
shall in turn submit within six months of the conference their recommendation to the
praesidium. The praesidium meeting and conference at the Union headquarters, whether
it's Bangui or Leopoldville, will consider and approve the recommendations of the
committee of foreign mionisters in order to provide funds immediately for the committee
of the permanent officials and experts of the leaders of the union. I suggest that a
special committee be set up now to work out a budget for this.
Your Excellencies, with these steps, I submit: We shall be irrevocably committed to the
road which will bring us to a Union Government of Africa. Only a united Africa government
with central political direction can successfully give effective material and moral support
to African fighters in solving Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique, South West Africa, Botswana,
Swaziland, Lesotholand, etc, and of course, Africa.
All Africa must be liberated now.
It is therefore imperative for us, here and now, to establish a reparation bureau for
African freedom fighters. It may not be the road to which all African governments should
subscribe. It should be to accelerate the emancipation of Africa held under colonial and
divisionalist domination and oppression. It should be our joint responsibility to finance
and support this bureau on their successful achievement of independence. These territories
will automatically join our union of African states and best the Republic of Mother Africa.
There is no other hope for them otherwise. Where are they going? We shall leave here having
laid the foundation of our unity. Your Excellencies, nothing could be more fitting than that.
The unification of Africa should be born on the soil of the state which stood for centuries
as a symbol of African independence.
Let us return to our people of Africa, not with empty hands and hearts light with resolution
but with firm hope and assurance that at long last, African unity has become a reality. What
brought all of you here? We shall then begin with a triumphant march to the kingdom of the
African personality and to a continent of prosperity and progress, of equality of destiny and
of worth and happiness. This shall be our victory. Victory within a continental government of
a Union of African States. This victory which gives our voice greater force in world affairs
and enables us to throw our weight more forcibly on the side of peace. The world needs peace
in which the greatest advantage can be taken, the benefice of science and technology. Many of
the world's present ills are to be found in the insecurity and fear engendered by the fate of
nuclear war, especially the way the new nations need peace in order to make our way in the
light of economic and social well-being amid an atmosphere of insecurity and instability, and
to promote moral, cultural, and spiritual fulfilment. If we in Africa can achieve this example
of a continent knitted together in common policy and common purpose, we shall have made the
finest possible contribution to that peace for which all men and women thirst today, and which
will let go once and forever the deepest shadow of global destruction for mankind. Ethiopia has
stretched forth her hand unto God.
Africa must unite.