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Young journalist Richard Lord returns home from school in London to his family's farm in British East Africa, and there his liberal attitudes and championship of the African cause clash with his father's rigid and imperious stance toward the natives. With Richard is Mark Pearce, an open-minded British Member of Parliament who is in Africa to gain insight on human relations problems in the British protectorate. While the Lords are entertaining bigoted District Officer Nigel Charter and his wife, a secret rebellion led by Mbali erupts into open turmoil. The farm's staff disappear, taking with them arms from the house gun cabinet, and the Lord family prepares for an attack that never comes. Mark discovers that Mary, the family's faithful cook, is rebel leader Mbali, who, because of her affection for Richard, ordered the Lord household spared. Richard is killed, however, while returning from a hospital where he took an injured African girl, thereby saving her life. The tragedy has a profound effect on Mark, and in a speech he pleads for Christian tolerance and understanding between blacks and whites.