In April 1963, the Imperial Ethiopian Government was able to present the biographies of the founding fathers in a book titled, "The African Summit Conference."

INTRODUCTION

The short biographies, which were published by the Imperial Ethiopian Government (IEG) in April 1963, will hopefully be a starting point for those who are interested in finding out more about the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity. The IEG's presentation covers the years prior to April 1963. The biographies demonstrate the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that the African leaders had during that time period.

ALGERIA

Mr. Ben Bella, the symbol of Algerian Independence, hope and pride, was born 46 years ago, in Marnia near the Moroccan border. He is a tall athletic man, well known in those turbulent years, not only as a soccer player, but also as the hot shot captain of a local football team.

After High school he underwent a pre-military training in the Chantrers de la Jeunesse in Algeria. As a master sergeant in the French army, he has a brilliant record, and a chest full of decorations, which he won in World War II. 

All these years, his major concern was the status of his country-men. He thought of nothing else but Algeria's freedom. After the war, he returned to Marinia and entered politics to become not only a municipal officer, but also a devoted member of the Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Liberties.

Mr. Ben Bella was one of the six initial leaders of the Nationalist Revolution, which years in advance, planned and engineered the November, 1954 revolution.

In 1949, he organized the daring hold-up of the post office in Oran. Mr. Ben Bella was captured by the French the following year, and given a life sentence of hard labor. He escaped from the Blida prison and lived underground in Europe and North Africa. During that time time, he visited President Nasser and President Habib Bourguiba. Both Presidents Nasser and Bourgiba gave him arms and support, which he found extremely indispensable for carrying out his plans.

In 1957, while carrying out a  mission, en route from Rabat to Tunis, the pilot of the plane received radio instructions from the French authorities to land in Algiers, which he did. Mr. Ben Bella was then imprisoned in the Island of Aix in the Atlantic Coast of France, and then in Chateaux.

Whether in the French army, or in the French prisons, be it for his country's independence, or its future prosperity, Mr. Ben Bella clashed with France for many years.

The French thought that the imprisonment of Mr. Ben Bella and his colleagues would solve the problem. On the contrary, it added fuel to the flames that burnt more passionately and brilliantly than ever.

On the part of Mr. Ben Bella, his imprisonment gave him the adequate time which he needed, for filling up the gaps of his education. He read works on economics, politics, history, and almost anything he could lay his hands on. He also learnt English, German, and literary Arabic. In Algeria he became a man of almost legendary prestige ---- indeed a martyr on whom the enthusiasm of his people was pinned.

On September 26, 1962, he was made Algeria's first Prime Minister by the Algerian National Assembly. He has said that he wants to convert Algeria into a socialist state. And ever since the time he took the reins of power, he is seen struggling to restore the economy of Algeria, which has been brought to the verge of disaster by seven and half years of war.

   BENIN (formerly Republic of Dahomey)

Mr. Hubert Maga, President of the Republic of Dahomey, was born at Parakou in 1910. He was educated up to secondary level in Dahomey and then became a teacher.

As the headmaster of a school, indeed as a teacher too, he was vigorously interested in youth problems and aspirations. Among other things, he was the first to organize scout troops in northern Dahomey.

President Maga's political career began in 1947, when he was made a territorial councilor. At one time, he was elected and re-elected deputy for Dahomey to the French National Assembly. He was also the founder of the Democratic Dahomeian Movement.

Of the many posts in which he served, mention has to be made of his being Grand Councilor for Art for Dahomey, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, France's Secretary of State for Labor in the Gaillard Government, his election to the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Dahomey, and last but not least, his membership to the Senate of the French Community in 1959.

On May 18, 1959, Mr. Maga was elected Prime Minister of his country because of his ability, as a compromising figure in leading a coalition government. After the adoption of a new constitution on Nov. 25, 1960, Mr. Maga was elected President of the Republic of Dahomey.

BURKINA FASO (formerly Upper Volta)

H. E. Maurice Yameogo, President of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Upper Volta, was born in 1921 in the town of Koudougou. After completing his secondary school studies at Pabret, he began his career as a teacher.

Of the many posts he has held in the past, mention has to be made of the Territorial Assembly and the Grand Council of French West Africa, to both of which, he was elected and has made substantial contribution.

At one time, he was an active member of the French Confederation of Christian Workers, and became vice-president of the Confederation's Territorial Office. He was also a member of the Voltaic Democratic Rally, minister of agricultural economy, minister of interior, minister of information, minister of justice, of war veterans, and last but not least, president of the Government Council of Upper Volta. Among other things, he encouraged his country to join the Conseil de l'Entente.

It is natural and right therefore, that a man of his caliber and sagacity should rise to eminence and prestige to lead his people to a prosperous era.

    BURUNDI         

     

His Majesty Mwami Mwambusta IV of the Kingdom of Burundi was born in the town of Murwvya in 1912. At the age of three, when his father Mutaga died, he succeeded him to the royal thrown, and ruled through the aid of a regent council.

Both the Germans and the Belgians who exercised authority in his country, recognized him as the ruler of Burundi. On December 16, 1915, the official coronation ceremony took place. Later, the regency, which used to assist the sovereign in carrying out his duties, was dismissed. Since then, he has been governing the country by himself. His Majesty's position as head of state was consolidated on July 1, 1962, when Burundi became an independent state.

      CAMEROON   

President Ahamadou Ahidjo of the Cameroon, was born in 1924 in Garoua in the Benoue region. After primary and secondary schooling, he attended the Ecole Superieur d'Administration in Yaounde. From then on, he worked in the telegraph office and during World War II he distinguished himself as a radio operator.

This hard working and industrious young man began to be interested in politics--an interest that finally resulted in his election to the Assemblee Representative du Cameroon as a deputy from the Benoue Region.

Mr. Ahamadou Ahidjo became General Secretary and then president of the administrative division, and he finally became vice-president of the whole assembly. In October 1955, he became Conseilleur de l'Asgemblee of the French Union, and after the elections of December 23, 1956, he became president by acclamation of the Territorial Assembly of Cameroon.

The influence he exerted on the Assembly debates, through his oratory skills, demanding a new status for his country, was enormous.

On May 16, 1957 Ahidjo became deputy premier and minister for internal affairs. When Cameroon received its internal autonomy, its first prime minister was Andre Marie M'Bida, founder of the Parti Democrate Chretien, who resigned after clashing with the French high commissioner.  Through the request of the Assembly, Mr. Ahidjo formed a second government and was elected premier. He addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations, and made a lasting impression on the minds of the U.N. delegates when he appealed for the reunification of his countrymen.

 CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Mr. David Dacko, President of the Central African Republic was born in 1930, at Bouchia in the district of M'Baiki in the southern part of the Central African Republic.

He was educated up to secondary school level in Bambari, and then in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville), where he qualified as a teacher. Mr. David Dacko became a headmaster of a primary school in Bangui, and soon became very active in the teachers trade union. 

In 1957, he was elected to the Territorial Assembly. From May 1957 to August 1958, he served as Minister of Agriculture, Cattle-Breeding and Forestry in the Boganda government. From August to December 1958, he served in the capacity of Minister of Administrative Affairs, in the Government Council of Ubangi-Shari. For some time, he was Minister of Interior, Commerce, and Economics.

After the tragic death of Mr. Boganda in an airplane crash, his cousin, who was a renowned statesman in French Equatorial Africa, Mr. David Dacko was unanimously chosen President of the Government by the Legislative Assembly. When the Assembly created the post of President of the Central African Republic, on August 14, 1960, he was elected to that office.

CHAD

President Francois Tombalbaye, who serves his country as President, Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense and Justice, was born at Bedaya in 1918. The deep scars on his face bear his tribe's distinguishing marks.

After the Second World War, he became a businessman. Then joining the Gabrielle Lisette's Progressive Party, he turned out to be a politician.

In 1952, he was elected representative of the middle Chad region, and became a member of the Territorial Council. Again in 1957 he was re-elected. In 1958, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly and later on, became a member of the legislative assembly.

For two years he represented Chad in the Grand Council of French Equatorial Africa. Besides this, he also served as Vice-President of the Grand-Council for a year.

In 1959, he became the prime minister of the then Fourth Provisional Government of Chad. At the same time, he fully endorsed the plans of his party, seeing to it, that it appealed to the insistent demands of his country.

CONGO 

Mr. Fulbert Youlou, the stocky, jovial and friendly President of the Republic of the Congo, was born on June 1, 1917 at the town of Moumbouolo, to the west of Brazzaville

At the age of 12, he entered a seminary at Brazzaville. Proving himself a good and intelligent student, he was sent to the Cameroons to complete his theology and philosophy studies. The friends he met there, particularly Boganda, who later became the first Prime Minister of the Cameroon Federation, have left deep and lasting influences on him. History, theology, philosophy, and the future of Africa were among their favorite subjects of discussion. After completing their studies both promised each other to fight for the independence of their respective countries.

Fulbert Youlou came to his country and taught for some years. As a priest he met European clergymen engaged in missionary activities in the Congo. The fruitful discussions he has had with them, have also enabled him to form political convictions and principles of his own.

Though his bishop opposed his idea of standing for election, in 1955 he campaigned for a seat in the National Assembly and lost. But then, failure being a stepping stone to success, he never despaired, never lost heart and faith in his ability to attain his life-long ambition.

Soon he went to Paris for a variety of reasons, and this opportunity enabled him fill the gaps of his education. He returned home to the Congo, and with the help of friends organized the UDDIA party. The party won half of the seats in the National Assembly. Mr. Youlou first became the Mayor of the city of Brazzaville and then Minister of Agriculture. After that, it was not difficult for his towering personality to move on to the premiership and then to the Congolese Presidency. 

EGYPT (formerly UNITED ARAB REPUBLIC)

President Gamal Abdel Nasser was born in January 1918 at Benimor in Upper Egypt. He was educated in Cairo, and after one year's reading of Law at the University, he transferred to the military academy in 1937.

He began his military career as sub-lieutenant at Mangabad, Asiuth province. In 1939 he was transferred to an infantry unit in Alexandria. There, he met likeminded officers, who together with him discussed the overthrow of the Faruk regime. Dissatisfied with conditions in the army, Nasser secured a transfer to the Sudan, where he spent two years. The Sudan period was followed by the military academy. There, he soon acquired many friends, who later became his close assistants, sharing adversity and happiness with him.

In the war in Palestine in 1948, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was the front line, was seriously wounded. He was, thus, twice awarded the Fuad Star for bravery.

In 1949, with seven of his closest friends, he formed a secret organization of progressive officers, which carried out a coup d'etat in the early hours of July 24, 1952, overthrowing the monarchy and driving king Faruk into exile. Delays in reforms, corruption in public offices, exploitation of Egypt by local and foreign capitalists, the poverty and indignity of the toiling farmers who were left with nothing, the stationing of British soldiers on the country's soil were some, if not all, the reasons for Gamal Abdel Nassrer's success.

H.E. Gamal Abdel Nasser was later elected as the country's first president.

 Bio. Section 2