For centuries Africa has provided the stuff of dreams for explorers, adventurers, conquerors, colonizers, soldiers, plunderers, and state-builders. It has also been the backdrop for the nightmares of slavery, famine, war, genocide, and other tragedies. Africa is at once a geographical illusion and a potent political symbol. Its emergence and recent impressive economic growth have altered the geo-strategic calculations of all the global powers. With its abundant natural and human resources generating increasing political and economic capital, Africa’s importance on the global stage will only continue to grow. However this growth will be conditioned by how African states individually and collectively respond to the myriad challenges and opportunities facing the continent. What do we mean by describing Africa as a geographical illusion? Look at the map of Africa: fifty-four states, each distinct and discretely colored to convey the attributes of sovereign identity and equality. Yet the fundamental Westphalian principle of sovereignty is actually challenged throughout Africa as in no other region of the world. Of Africa’s 54 recognized states, how many can actually claim to effectively govern their territory, so as to prevent serious challenges from indigenous security threats? How many effectively govern their borders to control the flow of goods and persons, licit and illicit, in and out of the country? How many can claim that national identity overrides other sub-national identities for the majority of the population? While not implying the legitimacy or illegitimacy of national sovereignty claims, the answer in each case is a small minority of Africa’s countries. The map of Africa has the additional historical handicap of having been drawn not from organic political development as in Europe, but by the hand of Europeans with little concern for or knowledge of the state-building enterprise, leaving many African states with a substantial legitimacy deficit among their populations.