This article examines how contending appeals to pan-Africanism have been central to the (de)legitimation processes that have shaped the trajectory of African regional governance. Such appeals have been used variously to construct and contest the scale, pace and norms constituting continental integration, including its modes of participation. The African Union (AU) remains a site of contestation over the internal legitimation of competing pan-African agendas as well as external legitimation in the face of interested global forces. We draw on relevant scholarly works, policy documents and interviews with AU practitioners to examine the AU's African Governance Architecture as a set of continental agencies, principles and processes claiming to promote a democratic governance agenda premised on pan-African Shared Values and wider participation. We demonstrate how the particular functioning of several nascent participatory innovations under AGA reflects ongoing contestation over the form and function of African regional governance.