The move towards Inclusive Education in Africa since Salamanca (1994) has been slow, despite the reduction in enrolment gaps for vulnerable children due to universal primary education in many countries. This article centres on conceptions of Inclusive Education, which have rested primarily on increasing numbers of children with disabilities and special needs in mainstream schools. The article shares some of the key challenges across countries that have limited progress towards Inclusive Education and some achievements, including local thinking towards a broader view of inclusion within a social model and attention to barriers within contexts. It looks specifically at notions of ‘inclusion’ within the African context and the focus on access for the most marginalised which remain problematic in the face of struggling economies and variants of authoritarianism replacing colonial power. Ironically, links to colonial powers are maintained with a continued reliance on international aid and support to move policy agendas forward and to support local communities. The article looks at this tension in the development of policies and practices moving forward and the tension in relation to the African struggle for freedom and ‘ubuntu’, a shared collective humanness and social ethics against oppression to maintain group cohesion.