INTRODUCTION In this article I will analyze modern African states' development from the onset of colonialism to the present to understand why these states' attempts at implementing policies that improve the dire conditions that face the majority of their populations (lack of health facilities, infrastructure, food security, peace and an economic self-sufficiency) are unsuccessful. By "Africa" I mean the continent including its islands. This is a general study, which draws examples from east, central, west, north and southern Africa. This does not imply that Africa is homogeneous (just as Western countries are not homogeneous). Issues of class, ethnicity, gender and race inform both the African continent and Western countries. "State" as defined here is a multilayered entity from grass-root organizations to the leadership.