African cotton in the age of neoliberalism continues to generate an impoverishing imbalance between risk and reward. The primary producers of cotton in the 30 or so African countries where cotton cultivation is most prominent are small-scale farming families. The millions of families that sow cottonseeds and tend to their thirsty crops hope ultimately to generate an income from sales at the farm gate. Their faith is not necessarily misguided. African farmers that seek to reap cotton’s ostensible returns of cash and an improved position in the money economy attempt to emulate the evident economic successes of some of their peers. Many who are induced to go down this path nonetheless fail to realize sustained financial prosperity. The promise of ‘white gold’ is often not kept.