This chapter examines the views of Marxist and developmental analysts. It focuses on to an exploration of the ways in which the dual processes of state formation and social differentiation have been linked in time and space. While considerable effort has been spent on exploring the internal dynamics of class and ethnicity, and asserting the claims of one over the other, the terms of the debate suggest that much of contemporary Africa is reducible to a condition of statelessness. The more important point brought to light by the work of historians is that processes of stratification and restratification were part and parcel of the social dynamics of Africa long before the advent of the colonial state. The passage from kinship-centered organizations to wider ethnic loyalties, and at times to something approximating a class-based type of social stratification, was related in some significant ways to strategies of state expansion.