African literature is a rich source for learning about politics, specifically systems of justice. Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), Sahle Sellassie (The Afersata), and Ousmane Sembène (God’s Bits of Wood) present stories of crime and punishment in three African societies. Insights from these texts allow for a better understanding of the values that inform contemporary ideas of justice in Africa. A comparative reading of the texts challenges the dichotomous thinking that informs much of the popular and scholarly work on Africa, demanding a reimagining of the dualities of individual/community and modernity/tradition. Thus, the stories of the past help illuminate and contextualize present structures and practices, with the hope of constructing more effective, relevant, and humane systems of criminal justice in the future.