In the lead theme, we focus on Somalia, a failed state, posing a number of fundamental questions: why did Somalia fail as a state? Should the failed state be reconstituted as one nation or should different nations be allowed to emerge from the ashes of the collapsed state? What are the challenges facing the state reconstitution efforts? And what are the implications of all these for the current democracy and development projects in Africa? Abdinur S. Mohamud, an education consultant with the Ohio Department of Education, Columbus, Ohio, USA, and Abdi M. Kusow, a lecturer in political sociology at Oakland University in Michigan, trace the history of the failure of the state in Somalia, arguing that "the dissolution of the nation-state in Somalia had its roots in the conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia which started during the early years of Islam in the Horn." Mohamed H. Mukhtar, a Somali Professor of African and Middle Eastern History at Savannah State University Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A. discusses the various conferences to reconcile the various warring factions, clans and warlords in the Somali imbroglio, noting that most of the conferences adopted same modus operandi, with each starting with great expectations and hopes but eventually achieving very little, if anything at all Abdurahman Moallim Abdullahi (Badiyow), a peace activist, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mogadishu University, discusses the role of the Islamic factor in recovering the Somali state, noting that although officially the Somali state collapsed on July 1 1991, "scholars of Somalia disagree on what it was that really collapsed in Somalia in 1991," making the challenge of reconstituting the state even more arduous. Abdulkadir Osman Farah of the Centre for Development and International Relations, Aalborg University Denmark, discusses the political options for Somalia, noting that three main groups compete for political power in Somalia - an alliance of traditional pastoralists and Islamic groups, the merchants and the predatory political and military warlords. He favours an alliance of traditional pastoralists and "Islamic components" because they enjoy relatively high level of "popular legitimacy as they are endogenously rooted and capable of organising Somalis through clan and religious lines." Abdulahi A. Osman of the Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia, examines the role played by inequality, ethnicity and clanism in fuelling the Somali conflict and concludes that the "conflicts in Africa in general, and Somalia in particular resulted primarily from inequality that began during colonial era and continues after colonialism." Gerrie Swart, Research Associate with the Unit for African Studies at the Centre for International Political Studies at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, argues that the conflict in Somalia has not really been effectively addressed, and that the peace process exists only in name. Issaka K. Souare, Contributing Editor to this Journal and a PhD candidate at Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Canada, revisits the United Nations interventions in Somalia in 1992-95 following the overthrow of the Siad Barre regime and the fratricidal war. Franco Henwood, a London-based independent human rights commentator and analyst, makes a case for the international recognition of Somaliland as a sovereign nation. Besides, the lead theme, we also brought together a number of very topical articles - from Professor Ali Mazrui's report of his recent visit to Uganda to Professor Kwesi Prah's vision of Afro-Arab geopolitical relations. Next edition: The lead theme in the November/December edition of African Renaissance is: African Philosophy and the Crises of Governance in Africa. Be part of the debate. Send you contributions to: firstname.lastname@example.org"