May 25 is celebrated annually in Uganda and elsewhere on the African continent as Africa Day to commemorate the day on which the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1963 by 32 sovereign states. On this auspicious occasion we celebrate and rededicate ourselves to African unity which is the primary and ultimate goal of pan-Africanism.
The first OAU Summit, chaired by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, was attended, inter alia, by president Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, president Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, president Sekou Toure of Guinea, president Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, president Leopold Senghor of Senegal and president Modibo Keita of Mali.
Uganda was ably represented by then prime minister Milton Obote. Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe did not attend because they had not yet achieved independence.
For the record, at the end of the deliberations of the 32 African Heads of State and Government who met in Addis Ababa in 1963, only two African leaders stood up courageously to support a proposal for the immediate establishment of a continental government for Africa, there and then. The two great pan-Africanists were Nkrumah of Ghana and Obote of Uganda. I believe history will accord them a distinguished status as heroes of pan-Africanism.
Today, it’s fashionable for all manner of dishonest, mediocre and power-hungry politicians, who are hard-core tribalists and political opportunists, to invoke pan-Africanism as their ideology and masquerade as pan-Africanists when they have, in fact, done enormous damage to the cause of pan-Africanism, by their aggressive, reactionary and counter-revolutionary actions.
The roots of modern pan-Africanism can be traced to a meeting held in Manchester, England, in 1945. Decisions adopted at that 5th Pan-African Congress which was attended, inter alia, by Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta and renowned Black American scholar W.E.B Du Bois, played a significant role and accelerated the legitimate, protracted and heroic struggle of Africans for self-determination and independence.