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Monrovia Group

One of two main factions in the Pan-African movement of the early 1960s, created in May 1961 in response to the formation of the other leading faction, the so-called Casablanca Group. The Monrovia Group was made up of twenty African nations, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. In general terms, it favored a less formal confederation of newly independent African states and a more voluntary approach to participation in cultural and economic exchange (and less socialism) than did the Casablanca Group.

In January 1961, Moroccan King Muhammad V invited the leaders of Ghana, Guinea, Egypt, Mali, Libya, and the Algerian government-in-exile to Casablanca to discuss African unity. This meeting was partly a response to an earlier gathering in Brazzaville, Congo, the previous month. The so-called Brazzaville Group promoted a loose confederation of independent African states, but not the kind of political integration supported by certain radical forces on the continent, and supported United Nations (UN) intervention in the crisis then plaguing the Congo. Furthermore, the Brazzaville members had excluded those radical forces, specifically Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, and rejected Morocco's claim to Mauritania, which had recently sought UN recognition.

In response to this, Morocco's ruler invited those same radical leaders to a conference in the hope of gaining their support for his claims on Mauritania. This meeting, which was dominated by the charismatic Nkrumah and Nasser, promoted a strong political union for Africa's newly independent states. Specifically, it accepted in principle Nkrumah's ideas of a United States of Africa, based on the American model. It also favored socialist, centralized economic planning; industrialization; and a continental defense structure. In addition, the group recognized Morocco's claim to Mauritania (to the delight of their host), rejected the promotion of regional groups over a continental confederation, supported Algerian independence and the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from the Congo, and declared Israel as "a base for imperialism."

In keeping with the factionalism that marked the Pan-African movement at this time, still 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 the Liberian capital of Monrovia to discuss African unity, but this group was considered more moderate in its approach and intentions. The Casablanca Group was excluded as being too radical and ambitious (particularly Nkrumah and Nasser), and with the exception of Tunisia, North Africa was not represented.

Following the first Monrovia meeting, a war of words broke out between the two factions, as the press and politicians from both sides accused the other of being tools of imperialism or harboring secret designs to dominate the continent. As a result, a general climate of mutual distrust ensued.

When a second meeting of the Monrovia Group was held in Lagos, Nigeria, in January 1962, the rest of the Casablanca Group refused to attend when the Algerian government-in-exile was not invited. Over the course of 1962, however, two of the main problems dividing the groups were resolved. Algeria received its independence in July 1962, about the same time that the conflict for control in the Congo reached a resolution with the establishment of a central government. Furthermore, by this time it had become increasingly apparent that the two factions shared many goals, including the promotion of independence for the remaining European colonies in Africa, nonalignment in the Cold War, and some form of continental cooperation in trade and foreign policies.

After lobbying by such influential African leaders as Sekou Toure of Guinea and Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie, the two groups finally came together in a meeting of thirty-two African nations in May 1963 in Addis Ababa, where they agreed to a compromise plan for achieving greater African unity. The result was the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the demise of the Casablanca and Monrovia Groups.

Brent M. Geary

Further Reading
Esedebe, P. Olisanwuche. Pan-Africanism: The Idea and Movement, 1776–1991. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1994.; Mazrui, Ali A., ed. UNESCO General History of Africa VIII: Africa since 1935. Paris: UNESCO, 1993.; Thompson, Vincent Bakpetu. Africa and Unity: The Evolution of Pan-Africanism. New York: Humanities Press, 1969.

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