This international organization, now defunct, was founded in 1963 and disbanded in 2002 by its last chair, Thabo Mbeki, in favour of the African Union. The OAU's objectives were to promote unity and cooperation among newly independent African nations, defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity, represent them with a unified voice in the international arena, and eradicate colonialism in order to better the lives of the people of the continent.
At the invitation of Haile Selassie, the OAU, with its original 32 independent African member states, established its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. By the time it was dissolved, 53 of 54 African nations were members (Morocco had left in a huff in 1985 after the Western Sahara was made a member in 1982).
The OAU had lofty goals, but was not particularly successful in realizing them. Internal conflict was common, exacerbated by autocratic heads of state who proceeded to do what they wanted in spite of the OAU's principles; it was sometimes derisively called "The Dictators' Club". However, the OAU was able to mediate some disputes, and was instrumental in bringing about the end of apartheid and the beginning of majority rule in South Africa, which joined the OAU in 1994. It was less successful in establishing an African common market; the African Union was created to have a stronger commitment to democracy and more teeth to promote economic, political, and social integration across Africa.
The OAU's website is no longer active; the African Union's website can be viewed at http://www.africa-union.org/.