Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1346, (25 - 31 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Timeline of African unity

Timeline  of African unity
Timeline of African unity
Al-Ahram Weekly

1791: Publication of Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery by Quobna Ottabah Cugoana from Ghana. This book speaks of the Sons of Africa, a political organisation that arose at a time when the African peoples were developing a sense of African identity in the course of their struggle against slavery, racism and colonialism.

1804: The independence of Haiti from France after a revolutionary struggle that lasted over a decade. Haiti becomes the “first black republic in history”

1807: Britain promulgates a decree, the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, prohibiting the transport of enslaved Africans on ships belonging to the British fleet. Lobbying by the Sons of Africa was instrumental in securing this act, which significantly reduced the size of the transatlantic slave trade.

 Early 19th century: The rise of the “Return to Africa” movement among emancipated former slaves in the US.

 1847: African-Americans found Liberia for fellow African-Americans wishing to return to their African roots.

 1884-1885: The Berlin Conference is held in the capital of Germany, the purpose being to divide Africa among the European colonial powers.

Late 19th century: The rise of calls for pan-Africanism in response to the ongoing European colonisation of the continent.

1897: Henry Sylvester-Williams, a Trinidadian lawyer, founds the African Association in London to appeal for African unity, especially among the British colonies.

1900: The First Pan-African Conference is held in London and organised primarily by Henry Sylvester-Williams, bringing together representatives from various parts of the continent. Terms such as African unity and African solidarity now become part of the everyday lexicon of African intellectuals and political activists the world over. At the time the conference is held, the only independent African states are Ethiopia and Liberia.

Early 20th century: France allocates seats in the French National Assembly for representatives of its African colonies.

1910: Independence of South Africa a few years after the end of the Second Boer War between Dutch settlers and the British colonial authorities. A system of government is introduced controlled by a white elite that excludes the majority native African population from participation in power.

1918: End of World War I. Britain and France take over the former German African colonies in Tanganyika (Tanzania) (which goes to Britain), Cameroon (split between France and Britain), Togo (France) and Namibia (South Africa). The process confirms the African peoples’ conviction that they are regarded as no more than white men’s possessions, a sentiment that fuels the later national liberation movements.

1919: The Versailles Peace Conference is convened to settle issues related to World War I. It fails to uphold the African peoples’ right to independence and self-determination with sufficient clarity, even if it underscores the principle of equality among nations.

In tandem with the main conference, the African-American intellectual and journalist W E B DuBois organises a conference for representatives from Africa in order to impress upon the victorious powers from the war the need to give the Africans the opportunity to take part in the governments of their own countries as soon as possible.

1924: Jamaican political leader, writer and journalist Marcus Garvey coins the term “The United States of Africa”.

1956: Sudan becomes the first Sub-Saharan African state to gain its independence from colonialist rule.

1957: Ghana wins its independence under its leader Kwame Nkrumah, a strong supporter of African unity.

1958: The first African Unity Conference is held in Accra at the invitation of Nkrumah.

1960: Conference of Independent African States convenes in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. In that year alone, 17 more African states gain their independence, prompting the UN to dub 1960 “The Year of Africa”.

1963: The leaders of 32 African states found the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and choose Addis Ababa as its headquarters.

1991: The Abuja Agreement is signed establishing the African Economic Community.

2002: The African Union is established as the successor to the OAU.

2004: Establishment of the Pan-African Parliament.

2006: Launch of the “Study on an African Union Government: Towards the United States of Africa”.

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