Until it was conquered by the British in 1897, the city of Benin, in what is now Nigeria, was the centre of a powerful kingdom. Its rulers, the Obas of Benin, were mysterious, secluded figures who spent much of their time in the performance of rituals designed to enhance their power and to ensure the prosperity of their subjects. Many of the art objects for which Benin is famous were used in these rituals, some of which are still performed. This film shows some of the most significant moments in the rituals that take place around the beginning of the new year, including the greatest event of the ritual year, the Igwe Festival, in which the Obas divine powers are strengthened and renewed. The object of worship is the head of the living Oba, the seat of his ritual energy, on which the well-being of the nation is believed to depend on.