This article explores the role of perceptions in donor-African relations and the extent to which donor ‘images’ of African governments can be managed by these same governments to their advantage. The article focuses on donor views of ‘reliability’ in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and compares differing international perceptions of Kenya and Uganda through this lens. Arguing that donors have an exaggerated sense of Ugandan ‘compliance’ or reliability and Kenyan unreliability in fighting terrorism, it explains this by examining the two governments’ international ‘image management’ strategies, or lack thereof. The analysis contends that Uganda's success at promoting itself as a major donor ally in the GWOT, compared with Kenya's general reluctance to do the same, has played a significant role in building and bolstering these differing donor perceptions. This, the article suggests, raises important questions about the nature of African agency in the international system.