This thesis argues that the notion of African identity, in its essentialist and anti-essentialist conceptions, does not have the conceptual and theoretical purchase to imagine socio-political and cultural spaces of agency in contemporary African situations. By critically discussing literature on the notion of African identity in African philosophy, the study reveals that the notion of African identity has been caught between the polarities of essentialism and anti-essentialism. The thesis critically engages with the historical development of the notion of African identity and situates it within the contemporary works of Archie Mafeje ("Africanity: A Combative Ontology") and Achille Mbembe ("African Modes of Self-Writing"). The thesis utilizes the conceptual framework espoused by David Scott which argues that bodies of knowledge are answers to contingent historical problems articulated from contingent conceptual frameworks. Within this conceptual orientation, the thesis argues that essentialist and anti-essentialist views of African identity are conceptualized from the 19th century Pan-African conceptual and theoretical framework which was a consequence of, and aimed at, a different cognitive-political constellation that is fundamentally different from our own (the present). Consequently, the essentialist view of African identity succeeds only at highlighting contemporary socio-political ills, while the anti-essentialist view only advances the fluid notion of identity. Neither views, therefore, offer accurate readings of the present cognitive-political context nor open possible spaces of socio-political and cultural agency.