Within international relations the normative agency of African actors is often downplayed or derided. This article develops the concept of bricolage to offer a novel understanding of norm development and contestation in international relations, including the role African actors play in this. We contend that a norm's core hypothesis can be thought of as the nucleus of a norm. In the case of complex international norms, if this core hypothesis is sufficiently vague and malleable, the norm will continue to attract a range of actors who may claim to share a commitment to enacting the core hypothesis even if they simultaneously promote a variety of potentially conflicting and contradictory meanings-in-use of the norm when doing so. Each meaning-in-use, we argue, might be thought of as a product of bricolage: a process of combining and adapting both new and second-hand materials, knowledges, values, and practices by an actor to address a problem in hand. Through a detailed study of the contestation of transitional justice between South Africa and the International Criminal Court, we elucidate how bricolage can help to illuminate the normative agency of African actors in shaping transitional justice. Processes of bricolage add complexity and potentially confusion to a norm's development, but bricolage also offers the potential for a creative and dynamic means by which a range of actors can inject pluralism, dexterity, and vitality into debates about a norm's meaning and operationalisation.