The lecture addresses a simple question: What is the point of African Studies? It argues in response that there is value in studying Africa. This value concerns the knowledge likely to be acquired about Africa, but also the understanding which such knowledge yields about the world. The question may be simple, but the answer is complex. “Urbane scholarship” refers to a way of engaging with scientific knowledge that reveals sophistication in dealing with the world we live in. The claim is that this sophistication is an intellectual trait bound to be fostered by the study of a continent, which is in many respects what it is because of the way the world is. The lecture will, therefore, make a case for grounding the study of Africa more firmly in broader claims about the human condition and less on Africa’s specificity and the immediate benefits to be drawn for such practical concerns as development and well-being in Africa.