Conceiving of the problems of African colonialism in geopolitical terms offers an incomplete and ultimately misleading view of the significance of the African colonial experience on the present character of African politics. Unhappily, the track record of much of ‘independent’ Africa suggests that the colonisation of Africa was not so much the cause of Africans’ lack of freedom as a manifestation of the lack of freedom, without which Africans were unable to defend themselves. Colonialism is a force that probes for a certain type of weakness or limitations in a population. Colonialism seeks out certain ‘freedom voids’ – populations that lack the qualities of a free citizenry. I argue that Africans would do better to focus instead on the more general political problem of how any state, regardless of its experience with colonialism, must create and sustain the institutions that support the security and freedom of its citizens.