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Organization of African Unity (OAU)

Last modified: 2002-08-17 by rob raeside
Keywords: oau | africa | organization of african unity | african union | international organization | map | morocco | west sahara |
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[OAU Flag]
by Stuart Notholt, 22 Mar 1996

See also:

OAU (Organisation of African Unity)

Members (as of 1997-12-01): Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Dem. Rep.), Congo (Rep.), Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé & Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, the Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (West Sahara)

Morocco — not a member since 1984.11, because of the West Sahara question (ed.)

The OAU was founded on 25 May 1963 but it was only in 1970 that the flag was adopted. The multi-nation committee which designed the flag ignored personal, political and national jealousy and worked on the symbolism of the flag regardless of the color or patterns prevalent within the individual states.

The flag is a horizontal triband of green, white and green, with the bands separated by narrow gold stripes. In the center is a map of Africa in gold, within a green and gold wreath. There are seven interlocking red rings at the base.

The green is for the vegetation of sub-Saharan Africa and the gold is for the deserts of the north. The white stands for peace and unity. It may be surprising that black is not included, but the reason is that not all Africans are black and it was intended that the flag should avoid even the smallest suggestion of racism.

Following the election of a democratic government in South Africa in 1994, all countries on the continent are now members of the Organisation (except Morocco).

Bruce Berry 16 April 1998

The idea of the African Union is at least 40 years old, and Kwame Nkrumah was its main proponent. At the OAU summit in 2000, Ghadaffi proposed the name United States of Africa (also not his idea), but the delegates rejected it in favour of 'African Union'. Ghadaffi's association with the Union derives from his publicising and hosting the OAU Sirte Summit in Libya at which the Union Act was ratified.
Dan Kashagama (General Secretary, African Unification Front), 14 Nov 2001

African Union

The African Union (AU) is being launched in Durban, South Africa, tomorrow (9 July 2002).  The AU will be the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).  The AU has not yet adopted any new symbols although there is a special logo for the inaugural meeting tomorrow which is being attended by Heads of States.  This was featured on a stamp issued by the South African Post Office last week. The AU is expected to formally adopt new symbols (including a flag) in due course. Today is the final session of the OAU, following which its flag will be lowered.

Bruce Berry, 8 July 2002

[OAU Flag] by Ivan Sarajcic

The Organization of African Unity recently changed into the African Union (  The logo seems to be unchanged, but today I saw the flag of African Union hoisted along with Libyan plain green flag in front of Libyan Embassy, here in Belgrade. The proportions are changed from the old OAU flag, with the stripes having the ratio 3:1:8:1:3 and the emblem proportionately larger. I don't now if this is official change, but the flag is in use, at least here, in the Libyan embassy in Belgrade.
Ivan Sarajcic, 22 July 2002

 I am inclined to classify this "new" flag as an erroneous version of the old OAU flag in use in this particular place.
Zeljko Heimer, 23 July 2002

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