FIRST ANNIVERSARY O.A.U.
A momentous year ago this day, in a supreme moment of great historical vision, thirty African leaders undid the tangled knot of injustices bequeathed from long and shadowy years of colonialism. Thus was the Organization of African Unity born.
In its wake not only were vast vistas of challenges and opportunities opened but also a stirring hope and sober recognition has dawned on Africa; a faith and a determination that, immense as are the challenges that lie ahead, they shall all be conquered, and abundant as are the opportunities that await us, they shall not be wasted.
Significantly also, with the birth of the Organization, the unmaking of history in Africa – the decolonization process – which was initiated by the struggle of the African peoples themselves has been given an added, nay, a decisive momentum. For the first time Africa has learned what strength there is in unity. Thus, we are witnessing the glorious march of Africa on the path of Unity.
The past year has been one of reflection and intensive stock-taking. All organs of the Organization have met to lay strong groundworks for our future efforts. Now that this useful phase of work has been completed, we have to resolve that the coming year is the period of decisive take-off. Considering the magnitude of the pressing problems facing Africa, it is inevitable that we will have to proceed forthwith at an accelerated pace.
The pattern for bold and imaginative projects on a continental scale has been set by the establishment of the African Development Bank, the idea of which was of purely African initiative, now reaching the stage of operation with the assistance of the United Nations and a number of friendly foreign powers. We are confident that in the very near future Africa will be the site for the “launchings” of other such beneficial inter-African projects.
In the political domain the year was not without incidents. The likelihood of yet others arising cannot be ignored. But is it not in recognition of this that the Organization was created? The peace and order which we all desire to see in Africa cannot certainly be envisaged without handicaps. What is important is that, in keeping with the auspicious beginnings we have made, if disputes break out amongst us, we insulate them from the cold war and seek their solutions within the Councils of the family. We should attach as much importance to the process and mechanism of finding solutions to our disputes as to the solutions themselves, to set a precedent for co-operation in the future.
The Algerian-Moroccan conflict in a way provided the first opportunity to put to a real test the mechanism for constructive diplomacy which we had so laboriously and painstakingly built at Addis Ababa. Thanks to their political wisdom and their eagerness to listen to family counsels, the hostilities that so suddenly bedevilled relations between the two brotherly African countries have ceased altogether. The Special Commission created by the meeting of our Foreign Ministers has not spared any effort in its search for a mutually acceptable solution.
Likewise in the Ethiopian-Somali conflict, both parties have shown their readiness to seek within the OAU such solutions for their differences. The direct contacts that have recently been established between Ethiopia and the Somali Republic in Khartoum have already produced beneficial results. A Joint Commission is currently engaged in supervizing the withdrawal of troops to fifteen kilometers on both sides of the border, thus strengthening the ceasefire arrangements recommended by the Council of Ministers. What remains now is to carry still further the momentum thus generated by this limited but nevertheless very auspicious agreement.
The collective response of African countries to the request of President Nyerere to examine the situation that had arisen in Tanganyika and East Africa as a result of army mutinies has led to the first concrete result in the field of co-operation in defence matters. This achievement is a significant herald to yet more useful results to come in inter-African co-operation.
Last year, we remarked that what we Africans lacked was the mechanism which would enable us to speak with one voice and to act in unison. Today, we have the OAU as the authentic voice of a new and united and ever-progressive Africa. Its achievements of this past year should spur us on to continue unflinchingly our dedication to realize the noble aspirations of the peoples of our Continent.
May 26, 1964.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 259 –