Claude Ake (1939–1996) is one of the most influential voices in African political thought. While nation building was an important theme in the theoretical literature on Africa in the immediate post-independence period, Ake offers a seminal treatment of the disintegrative impact of the colonial presence on the emergent states in the continent. As an original contribution for understanding centrifugal forces and movements of the excluded in post-colonial societies generally, his work is important reading for all historians of Africa, whatever their regional specialization. Focusing on the experiences of the ‘new states’, Ake engaged brilliantly with the emergent fissiparous challenges of the period. These had to do with rising conflicts based on post-independence political alliances; the emergence of separatist tendencies; the effects of modernization on political stability in new and transitional societies; and the impacts of cultural heterogeneity, low regime legitimacy, economic backwardness and the ethnic factor on the continuity of these societies across the newly independent states.