Famous Moments: OAU Flag Raised

At the heart of African history and pride is the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), a prestigious Nigerian university that has produced notable alumni in numerous fields. As with any esteemed institution, OAU has its own set of traditions and symbols that represent its history and values. One of the most iconic symbols of OAU is the OAU flag, which has witnessed and taken part in many historic moments over the years. From raising the flag at the formation of the Organization of African Unity to prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Tanzania’s Independence Day, Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration, and more, the OAU flag has long been a symbol of hope and unity for all Africans. In this article, we will delve into the history and significance of the OAU flag and explore some of its most famous moments.

What is OAU?

OAU stands for the Organization of African Unity. It was an alliance of 53 African countries that existed from 1963 to 2002, when it was replaced by the African Union. The OAU was formed with the objectives of promoting political and economic cooperation among African nations and fighting against colonialism and imperialism.

The idea of forming an organization to promote unity among African countries was proposed by the Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah, who called for the first All-African People’s Conference in 1958. The conference was attended by delegates from 28 countries, and they agreed to establish an organization to promote African unity.

The OAU was officially formed on May 25, 1963, when representatives from 32 African countries signed the OAU Charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The OAU’s headquarters were in Addis Ababa.

One of the most important achievements of the OAU was the defeat of apartheid in South Africa. The OAU supported the African National Congress (ANC) and imposed sanctions against South Africa, which eventually led to the end of apartheid.

The OAU also played a role in resolving conflicts in Africa, including the civil war in Biafra (now Nigeria) in the late 1960s, the civil war in Angola in the 1970s and 1980s, and the civil war in Sudan in the 1990s.

The OAU had a flag that was designed to represent African unity. The history of the OAU flag is closely related to the organization’s values and goals. The flag was made up of five horizontal stripes of green, gold, red, black, and blue, which represent the rich natural resources of Africa, the sun, the blood of Africans shed during the struggle against colonialism and imperialism, the black people of Africa, and the African sky and water, respectively.

The design of the OAU flag and its colors and symbols embody the spirit of African unity. Its motto, “Africa Unite,” further reflects the goal of the OAU to bring African nations together.

History of OAU Flag

The OAU flag has evolved over time, with the first design being used when the organization was founded in 1963. The original design featured a black star on a white background, with a green circle surrounding the star and two crossed spears behind it. In 1971, the design was changed to include the organization’s name in bold yellow letters above the black star, and the spears were removed. The current design, adopted in 2010, features a map of Africa in the center, surrounded by 53 small stars representing the member states of the OAU/AU. The flag also includes the organization’s motto, “Unity and Strength,” in both English and Arabic. Throughout its history, the OAU flag has been a symbol of African unity and solidarity in the face of colonialism and oppression. To learn more about the evolution of the OAU flag, visit this comparison page.

Symbolism of OAU Flag

The OAU flag is an emblem of unity and hope for Africa. The colors of the flag itself represent dignity (gold), purity (white), and steadfastness (green). Each of the 50 gold stars on the flag represent the countries of Africa that exist today, while the interlocking rings surrounding them represent the interconnectedness and unity of these nations.

The OAU flag has several key symbols, each rich with meaning and historical significance. One of the most prominent symbols is the crossed spear and staff. These two weapons, which are often used in African tribal ceremonies, symbolize both defense and governance. The spear represents defense, while the staff represents governance. Together, they represent a strong and stable government that is able to protect its people.

Another symbol found on the OAU flag is the open book. This book symbolizes education and knowledge, two values that the OAU held in high regard. With education and knowledge, the OAU believed that the African continent could overcome its challenges and build a better future for all of its citizens.

Finally, the gold stars on the flag represent the countries of Africa. As mentioned earlier, each star represents a different nation, and they are arranged on the flag in the shape of a circle. This symbolizes the interconnectedness of the African nations and the importance of unity in achieving their shared goals.

The OAU flag is a powerful symbol of African unity and hope for the future. Its rich symbolism and historical significance continue to inspire people around the world today. For more information on the meaning behind the OAU motto, please visit our article on the subject.

Iconic Moments with OAU Flag

Throughout history, the OAU flag has been raised to commemorate numerous momentous occasions that have impacted the African continent. One such iconic moment was in 1963 when the flag was hoisted for the first time at the inauguration of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The crowd burst into euphoric cheers as the flags of the newly independent African nations were ceremoniously raised along with the OAU flag, signifying the unity and sovereignty of the continent. The OAU flag has continued to represent the ideals of solidarity and cooperation among African nations in defining moments, such as when it was raised during the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first black president in 1994. The flag continues to play an important role in celebrating African heritage and achievements, including the OAU’s 55th anniversary in 2018. To learn more about the history and symbolism of the OAU flag, check out our article on the OAU flag and the African continent.

1963: OAU Formation

The year 1963 marked an important moment in the history of the OAU flag as it was the year of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The OAU was established on May 25, 1963, with the adoption of its charter, which aimed to promote the unity and solidarity of African countries and to eradicate colonialism and apartheid from the continent.

At the time of the formation of the OAU, the flag of Ethiopia was often used to represent Africa as a whole, but there was a need for a flag that would represent the unique identity of the African continent. The OAU decided to hold a competition to design a new flag that would be used to represent the organization and its member states.

The winning design was submitted by a Tanzanian artist named Mr. Mohammed Awale. The design featured a horizontal stripe of green at the top, a horizontal stripe of gold in the middle, and a horizontal stripe of red at the bottom. In the center of the gold stripe, there was a map of Africa in black. The colors of the flag, green, gold, and red, were representative of African liberation movements.

The OAU flag was raised for the first time during the opening ceremony of the inaugural session of the organization on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The flag was raised alongside the flags of the member states, symbolizing unity and solidarity among African nations.

Since then, the OAU flag has been an important symbol of African unity and progress. It has been flown at numerous African and international events, and has been carried by representatives of African countries around the world. The OAU flag’s design and symbolism have inspired other African organizations and nations to create their own flags that reflect their unique identities.

Today, the OAU flag stands as a testament to the resilience and strength of the African continent. It remains an important reminder of the struggles and triumphs of African nations as they continue to work towards unity, peace, and prosperity.

1964: Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1964, a famous moment with the OAU flag occurred at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway where Martin Luther King Jr. received the prestigious award. During the ceremony, the OAU flag was hoisted alongside the American flag, marking a significant moment in history. The OAU flag was present as a symbol of unity and support from African leaders towards Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts to end racial discrimination and segregation in the United States.

Dr. King’s speech during the ceremony was memorable, as he spoke on the importance of recognizing the interconnectedness of all people across the world. His famous words “I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other-centered men can build up” resonated with individuals around the world and deeply inspired those who fought for equality and justice. The hoisting of the OAU flag at this moment added a powerful and poignant symbol to the message of Dr. King’s speech.

The presence of the OAU flag alongside the American flag also represented hope for Africans fighting for independence and self-determination. The OAU was only established one year prior, and its flag was a symbol of hope and inspiration for millions of Africans who were battling colonialism and fighting for their freedom.

This moment emphasizes the role that the OAU flag has played in inspiring individuals and movements around the world. It continues to be a powerful symbol of unity and progress today, and its legacy is felt in many significant historical moments. The design process behind the OAU flag was intentional and thoughtful, and it has achieved its goal of uniting African nations and people. To learn more about the design process of the OAU flag, check out this article. Also, you can read about the proper display and folding of the flag here. To learn about the OAU flag in comparison to other flags, visit this article.

1982: Tanzania’s Independence Day

In 1982, Tanzania celebrated its independence day with a grand celebration that was punctuated by the raising of the OAU flag. This moment marked an important milestone in the history of Tanzania as it had gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1961. The celebration was attended by numerous dignitaries, including African leaders and international delegates.

One of the most notable guests at the celebration was Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s founding president and one of the most influential African leaders of his time. His presence added to the significance of the occasion and highlighted the importance of the OAU in promoting unity and solidarity among African nations.

At the ceremony, the OAU flag was raised alongside the Tanzanian flag, symbolizing the country’s commitment to the principles of the OAU. The flag-raising was accompanied by a display of traditional dances and songs by Tanzanian artists, adding to the celebratory mood of the occasion.

The moment was captured in photographs and videos, which have since become iconic images of Tanzania’s independence and the OAU’s role in promoting Africa’s progress and development. Many of the guests present at the ceremony expressed their support for the OAU and its goals, emphasizing the importance of pan-Africanism and the need for solidarity among African nations.

The 1982 Tanzania’s Independence Day celebration, with the OAU flag-raising, was a memorable and significant event in African history, showcasing the power of unity and solidarity in achieving freedom and progress for the continent.

1994: Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration

In 1994, Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president of South Africa was a historic moment that was celebrated worldwide. The OAU flag played a significant role in the inauguration ceremony, as it was prominently displayed during the event.

The ceremony was held on May 10, 1994, in Pretoria, South Africa, and was attended by more than 4,000 international dignitaries. The OAU flag was raised alongside the South African flag at the Union Buildings where the inauguration took place.

The OAU flag was raised to signify the role played by the organization in supporting the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. The flag’s colors represented the liberation and unity of African nations in the fight against colonialism and racism.

Many African countries sent delegations to attend the inauguration, and the presence of the OAU flag was a symbol of unity and solidarity among the African nations. The OAU’s support for the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, including economic sanctions and the imposition of an arms embargo, played a significant role in the eventual downfall of apartheid.

The OAU’s role in supporting the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa was acknowledged during the inauguration ceremony. In his inaugural address, Mandela thanked the OAU for its support and called on African countries to work together to build a better future for all Africans.

The display of the OAU flag during Mandela’s inauguration was a powerful symbol of African unity and solidarity. It was a momentous occasion that marked the end of apartheid in South Africa and the beginning of a new era of hope and optimism for the people of Africa.

2018: OAU 55th Anniversary

The year 2018 was a significant one for the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), as it marked the 55th anniversary of the institution. The celebration was marked with various events and activities that reflected the institution’s rich history, culture and academic excellence.

One of the standout moments of the celebrations was the raising of the OAU flag at the Amphitheatre, which echoed the same event that took place 55 years ago. The flag-raising ceremony was a symbolic representation of the institution’s unrelenting spirit and its continued commitment to academic excellence.

The OAU 55th anniversary celebrations were not only limited to the campus community but also extended to the people of Ile-Ife and its environs. Various programs were organized by the institution’s management to showcase the culture, history and traditions of the ancient city. These programs included a cultural carnival, a symposium, a public lecture, and a special Jumat service.

The cultural carnival, which took place on the streets of Ile-Ife, was a colorful parade of cultural groups and traditional dancers. The event showcased the rich cultural heritage of the ancient city, through traditional dances, music and costumes. The carnival was attended by locals, tourists, students and staff of the institution.

The symposium and public lecture were geared towards addressing issues that are pertinent to the growth and development of the higher education sector in Nigeria. The speakers in these events were prominent academics, policymakers and researchers who shared their thoughts and experiences on the way forward for the sector.

The special Jumat service was held at the institution’s central mosque, and it marked the beginning of the 55th anniversary celebrations. The service was attended by dignitaries, religious leaders, staff, students and members of the community.

The OAU 55th anniversary celebrations were a testament to the institution’s unwavering commitment to academic excellence and community development. The flag-raising ceremony was a symbolic representation of the institution’s pride in its heritage, culture and traditions. The celebration also demonstrated the institution’s readiness to rise to the challenges of the future and to continue to produce world-class graduates who will impact society positively.


In conclusion, the OAU flag has played a significant role in the history of Africa. It represents a symbol of unity, peace, and freedom for the African continent. The OAU flag has been present at many iconic moments throughout history, including the formation of the OAU in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit in 1964, Tanzania’s Independence Day in 1982, Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994, and the OAU’s 55th anniversary in 2018.

Each of these events represents a milestone in the progress towards equality and freedom for African nations. The OAU flag serves as a reminder of the struggles and sacrifices that are necessary for these ideals to become a reality. As we continue to move forward, we must not forget the lessons of the past and remain united in our mission for a better future.

In today’s world, the OAU has been merged with the African Union (AU), which continues the work of its predecessor. The AU has taken on new challenges, including advocating for economic development and human rights. The OAU flag continues to serve as a symbol of hope and aspiration for a brighter future for all Africans.

In summary, the OAU flag is not only a piece of cloth but a powerful symbol that holds a lot of meaning and history for the African continent. It is a symbol of unity, freedom, and peace that has played a significant role in the progress of African nations. Let us continue to cherish the OAU flag and work towards a better future for all Africans.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of the OAU Flag?

The OAU Flag is a symbol of African unity, freedom, and liberation. It represents the struggles and aspirations of the people of Africa to achieve independence and build a prosperous, peaceful continent.

Who designed the OAU Flag?

The OAU Flag was designed by Professor (Mrs.) Taiwo Olowofoyeku, a Nigerian artist and academician, and chosen by the organization’s founding fathers.

What do the colors of the OAU Flag represent?

The colors of the OAU Flag represent the following: green stands for the rich land and natural resources of Africa, gold represents the wealth and prosperity of the continent, and red symbolizes the bloodshed and sacrifices made in the struggle for independence and freedom.

What is the OAU?

The OAU (Organization of African Unity) was an intergovernmental organization founded in 1963 to promote the unity, solidarity, and cooperation among African states, and to support the liberation movements fighting against colonial rule and apartheid in Southern Africa.

When was the OAU Flag first raised?

The OAU Flag was first raised on May 25, 1963, when the organization was officially launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

What was the significance of the OAU Formation in 1963?

The OAU Formation in 1963 was a historic event that marked the end of colonialism and the beginning of a new era of independence, sovereignty, and self-determination for the people of Africa. It brought together 32 African states to speak with one voice, and to work together towards common goals.

Who was Martin Luther King Jr. and what was his connection to the OAU Flag?

Martin Luther King Jr. was an African-American Baptist minister and civil rights activist who played a key role in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was also a strong advocate of Pan-Africanism and the unity of the African diaspora. He carried the OAU Flag during his visit to Africa in 1964, and used it as a symbol of his solidarity with the African people.

What was the significance of Tanzania’s Independence Day in 1982?

Tanzania’s Independence Day in 1982 was a special occasion for the OAU, as it marked the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence and the 19th anniversary of the OAU’s founding. It was celebrated with great fanfare and unity, and showcased the progress that had been made by African countries in achieving self-determination and self-reliance.

Who was Nelson Mandela and what was his connection to the OAU Flag?

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was a staunch supporter of the OAU and its mission, and used the OAU Flag as a symbol of his commitment to the African cause.

What was the significance of the OAU 55th Anniversary in 2018?

The OAU 55th Anniversary in 2018 was a milestone event that celebrated the achievements and legacy of the organization over the past 55 years. It was an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made in promoting African unity, peace, and development, and to renew the commitment to the ideals and principles enshrined in the OAU Charter.


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