Was there a distinctive African contribution to Marxist thought? Curiously, many of Africa’s Marxist leaders answered this question emphatically in the negative. Following an initial wave of what was dubbed ‘African socialism’ in the early post-independence years, a new cohort of Marxist-Leninist leaders coming to power mainly in the 1970s insisted on their orthodoxy. If African socialists had sought a path to socialism that appealed to African specificity, the later cohort insisted that there could be no specifically African socialism or Marxism, that there was just one universal Leninist Marxism, albeit one that needed to be fitted to local conditions in Africa as everywhere else it was employed. The new cohort positioned themselves relative to the African socialists much as Marx and Engels did vis-à-vis the utopian socialists, contrasting the scientific character of their approach with the eclecticism, romanticism and naïveté of the African socialists.1 Yet the story of Marxism in Africa was not entirely bereft of original contributions. In the first place, Marxists, as bearers of a doctrine concerned with revolution under advanced capitalism, had to innovate theoretically to explain Marxism’s relevance to the European colonial realm – and sub-Saharan Africa represented an acute instance of a region that was definitely not economically developed or even, outside South Africa, subject to the sort of ‘combined and uneven’ development that marked, say, Imperial Russia. Secondly, the African socialism narrative is not quite as sharply distinguishable from the ‘Afro-Marxist’ one as some of the later and more orthodox Marxists insisted: at least two of the most prominent African socialist leaders, Sékou Touré and Kwame Nkrumah, viewed Marxism as a part of their theoretical lineage, and Nkrumah became explicitly Marxist after being thrown out of power.2 We can therefore choose to view African socialism as itself contributing – and as imparting originality – to African Marxism. Finally, and professions of conformity notwithstanding, some of the orthodox Marxist-Leninists themselves made distinctive practical and theoretical contributions to Marxism.