What explains contemporary variations in African legislative institutions - including their strengths and weaknesses? Compared with the more powerful executive branches, legislatures throughout the continent have historically been classified as weak and largely inconsequential to policy-making processes. But, as Ken Ochieng' Opalo suggests here, African legislatures actually serve important roles, and under certain conditions, powerful and independent democratic legislatures can emerge from their autocratic foundations. In this book, Opalo examines the colonial origins of African legislatures, as well as how postcolonial intra-elite politics structured the processes of adapting inherited colonial legislatures to local political contexts and therefore continued legislative development. Through case studies of Kenya and Zambia, Opalo offers a comparative longitudinal study of the evolution of legislative strength and institutionalization as well as a regional survey of legislative development under colonial rule, postcolonial autocratic single-party rule, and multiparty politics throughout Africa.