As custodians of an important section of Africa's past and advocates for the value of the past in the present/future, archaeologists working in universities, museums and heritage agencies or as commercial consultants are in positions of high responsibility. Most often neither the scale of the work involved, nor its significance, are matched adequately by the number of people employed or the level of remuneration. Archaeologists struggle under recurrently difficult working conditions and yet manage to deliver astonishing levels of service across Africa. This paper considers best practice in African archaeology and then asks whether this is being achieved in all sectors of the archaeological discipline. It considers the set of ethical values that should underpin good practice in African archaeology and the actions that need to be taken to enact these values more widely. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.