This chapter lays the foundation of the book by analyzing the themes and arguments presented in each of the chapters that constitute the book. Development is the key theme of the book, and the chapter examines the practical importance of development as an idea and practice with regard to modern Africa. Given that the chapters are a combination of historical and contemporary topics that blend into each other so well, the introduction analyzes past practices of development in Africa (precolonial and colonial) and how they relate to current or recent practice (postcolonial). The relevance of traditional African institutions and gender are also conceptualized as a bridge to understanding where chapters on these subjects fit within the book. Overall, the chapter maintains that development has been an ongoing process in Africa, despite the influence of powerful external forces, notably colonialism and the modern state, as well as modern concerns about the environment.