The Organisation of African Unity as an Instrument of Africa’s Foreign Policy

  • Colin Legum


Pan-Africanism nurtured two separate but inter-related primary ideas - or ideals - which produced the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The one was the aspirational ideal of a unified Africa with a continental system of government. Though some African leaders still believe in this romantic ideal, and many more pay lip service to it, the great majority pragmatically accept that the ideal of unity can best be promoted by interweaving relationships and institutions, both continental and regional, by harmonising inter-African relations and by seeking to reduce areas of conflict in the continent itself. These objectives constitute the internal dimensions of Africa’s foreign policy. Its external dimension is determined by a different set of Pan-Africanist concepts which include the presupposition about a natural unity of ‘the coloured peoples of the world’; the need to redress the centuries-old racist and economic discrimination practised against coloured peoples by the industrialised nations of the West; and the sovereign right of the former colonial peoples, once they have become independent, to govern themselves without external interference, and to avoid becoming pawns of neo-colonialist forces.


Foreign Policy European Economic Community African Government Diplomatic Relation African Leader 
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Copyright information

© Stephen Wright and Janice N. Brownfoot 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Legum

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