In January 1961, King Muhammad V of Morocco invited the leaders of Ghana, Guinea, Egypt, Mali, Libya, and the Algerian government-in-exile to Casablanca, Morocco, to explore the concept of African unity. This meeting was, in part, a response to an earlier gathering in Brazzaville, Congo, in December 1960. The Brazzaville Group sought to promote a loose confederation of independent African states rather than a tight political integration. Brazzaville members had specifically excluded Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser for being too radical and refused to support Moroccan claims to Mauritania.
In response, King Muhammad invited Nkrumah and Nasser to Morocco in hopes of gaining their support for his Mauritania claims. This conference proposed a tightly cohesive political union for Africa's newly independent states; more specifically, it accepted Nkrumah's ideas of a United States of Africa, based on the American model. It also embraced socialist economic policies, industrialization, and a continental defense force. The group's members also agreed to recognize Morocco's claim to Mauritania (to the delight of their host), supported Algerian independence and the withdrawal of United Nations (UN) peacekeepers from the Congo, and labeled Israel as an imperialist stronghold.
In keeping with the factionalism marking the Pan-African movement, yet another bloc was created in response to the formation of the Casablanca Group. In May 1961, twenty African states—including the members of the Brazzaville Group—gathered in Monrovia, Liberia, to discuss African unity; however, this group was more moderate in its intentions. The Casablanca Group was excluded for being too radical and ambitious, and with the exception of Tunisia, North Africa was unrepresented.
After the first Monrovia meeting, a propaganda war broke out between the two factions, as each side accused the other of being a tool of imperialism or harboring secret designs to dominate the continent. In keeping with this conflict, two African trade unions, the All-African Trade Union Federation and the African Trade Union Confederation, vied for influence across the continent at this time, with the former supported by the Casablanca Group and the latter backed by the Monrovia Group.
When a second meeting of the Monrovia Group was held in Lagos, Nigeria, in January 1962, the remainder of the Casablanca Group refused to attend because the Algerian government-in-exile was not invited. By the end of 1962, however, two of the main problems dividing the two groups had been resolved. Algeria gained independence in July 1962, about the same time that the conflict in the Congo reached a resolution with the creation of a central government. Both sides realized that they shared similar goals, including the promotion of independence for the remaining European colonies in Africa, nonalignment in the Cold War, and a form of continental cooperation in trade and foreign policies.
The two groups finally came together in a May 1963 meeting of thirty-two African nations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where they acceded to a compromise for establishing African unity. In so doing, they created the OAU, with the resultant dissolution of the Casablanca and Monrovia Groups.
Brent M. Geary
Esedebe, P. Olisanwuche. Pan-Africanism: The Idea and Movement, 1776–1991. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1994.; Mazrui, Ali A., ed. Africa since 1935. No. 8 in UNESCO General History of Africa. Paris: UNESCO, 1993.; Thompson, Vincent Bakpetu. Africa and Unity: The Evolution of Pan-Africanism. New York: Humanities Press, 1969.