Ethnic or racial classifications often say more about culture and shared experience than about genetics or common ancestry. In Africa, a continent where up to 3,000 languages are spoken, ethnicity can be especially difficult to define. Unfortunately, perceived ethnic differences have all too often produced tragic results. This book analyzes the role of ethnicity in contemporary African politics and governance. It examines the corrosive legacy of the slave trade and European colonization, details some of the bloody conflicts that have erupted from ethnic frictions, and describes how divisions that appear to be ethnically based often have more to do with class and religion. The book also explores the possibility of a united Africa, able to harness its diversity rather than fight over its differences.