Morgan Leafy is a British diplomat and works in the small African state of Kinjanja, in the process of decolonisation. Arthur Fanshawe, a new member of the Commission, brings Leafy the news that oil has just been discovered in Kinjanja. For the British to obtain the benefits of such unexpected news, they must maintain good relations with the man who appears likely to be the next president of Kinjanja, Sam Adekunle. But a diplomatic crisis occurs: a woman dies at the High Commission and the British want to prolong the native burial honors for several days.
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