A black soldier, unfairly convicted of murder, escapes and becomes a leader in the African desert.
On a ship Captain Mack (Henry Wilcoxon) says he treats his men like children. Black soldiers are calmed when Jericho Jackson (Paul Robeson) sings "My Way," and Captain Mack makes him a corporal. Jericho tries to stop hazing. A German submarine torpedoes their ship, and men panic. Sergeant Gamey (Rufus Fennell) tries to stop Jericho from opening a door and is knocked down by him so that Jericho can release the trapped men. At an inquiry Captain Mack says that Jericho saved several lives; but Jericho is charged with murdering Gamey, who died after hitting his head. Captain Mack appeals for clemency for Jericho and asks Major Barnes (James Carew) to cable the Secretary of War. Jericho tells Mack that he doesn't want to kill, but he was trained to do so. On Christmas Eve Mack lets Jericho sing with the other men. John tap dances. After they sing "Silent Night," Jericho grabs a gun and escapes. He dresses as an African and speaks French to get away. Jericho takes a sailboat. Mack is accused of collusion and is arrested. Jericho overcomes Mike Clancy (Wallace Ford) and tells him that he is the skipper and that he is wanted for murder, but it was an accident. Mack is sentenced to five years.
Jericho and Mike abandon the ship, find fruit, and ride donkeys. Clancy promotes the strong-man Jericho to a crowd; but they flee officials on camels and stay with Gara (Princess Kouka). Clancy tells her brother that Jericho is a doctor, and he puts a splint on the chief's leg. Jericho treats others but needs supplies. Soon Jericho is married to Gara.
In 1922 Mack gets out of prison and searches for Jericho. Jericho suggests a truce to join tribes on the salt caravan. An English expedition joins his caravan and takes motion pictures. Jericho goes off and sings "My Way." Mike plays with goats and puts one on his camel. Jericho learns of raiding bandits and manages to fight them off in an ambush. Mike is shot and dies. The caravan continues, and at camp Jericho sings "Deep Desert." Mack sees a newsreel of the caravan and recognizes its leader as Jericho. Mack asks Major Barnes for a plane so he can clear his record. Jericho sings to his child and hears the plane. Mack is taken to Jericho, who greets him warmly; but Mack says he came to take Jericho back. Mack tells how he was imprisoned; but he sees Jericho's family and changes his mind. The tribe is aroused against Mack, and Jericho helps him to escape. Jericho wants to go with him; but Mack leaves without him.
Fine singing enhances this adventurous story of an African American fleeing a faulty judgment after his heroic action. Mack's punishment emphasizes military injustice, while Jericho finds a new life in Africa.