Based on a novel by William Boyd (who also wrote the film's screenplay), this darkly witty drama explores the political, social, and sexual gamesmanship of a group of British and African politicians. Morgan Leafy (Colin Friels) is a British diplomat who, for the past three years, has been assigned to the British High Commission of Ninjana, an African nation slowly divesting itself of colonial rule. Leafy is an arrogant and frequently confused alcoholic romantically involved with an African woman named Hazel (Jackie Mofokeng). Arthur Fanshawe (John Lithgow), a new High Commission appointee who wants nothing more than to be promoted and moved out of Africa, brings some interesting news to Leafy: massive reserves of oil have been discovered in Ninjana, and if the British want to reap the full profits of this windfall, they will want to stay on the good side of Sam Adekunle (Louis Gossett Jr.), who in all likelihood will be the next president of Ninjana. However, something of a diplomatic crisis has come up; a native woman was struck by lightning in the courtyard of the High Commission's compound, and the locals insist that she cannot be moved until certain time-honored rituals have been performed. At a loss for advice, Leafy turns to Dr. Alex Murray (Sean Connery), a Scottish doctor who has been in Africa for 23 years and is one of the few people equally at ease with both the British colonials and the natives. However, Leafy doesn't seem so eager to seek out assistance in his romantic problems; while he's involved with Hazel, Leafy also finds himself dallying with Adekunle's wife Celia (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) and Fanshawe's wife Chloe (Diana Rigg). By the way, don't bother looking for Ninjana on a map -- it doesn't really exist.
by Mark Deming synopsis