A constitutional bill of rights in many respects signals a country’s commitment to human rights protection. This paper examines, from a historical comparative perspective, the bills of rights in a number of selected African constitutions to see the extent to which, formally, they may help to promote respect for human rights. The paper starts by considering the concept of “bill of rights” and the historical context of human rights protection in African constitutional practice. The framework for the comparative analysis and the choice of countries used, reflect the linguistic, cultural and legal diversity of Africa. The main elements used in the comparison are the scope of rights recognised and protected in the bills of rights, their legal status, their justiciability and their relationship to international law. After highlighting some limitations as well as the advantages of such a comparative analysis, the paper concludes that such studies indicate that there is no perfect bill of rights and that countries can and should learn from the experiences of the other in a globalised and increasingly inter-dependent world.