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New Ghana’s president accused of plagiarism

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The winner of Ghana's presidential election Nana Akufo-Addo (C) takes the oath of office during the swearing-in as elected President of the fourth Republic of Ghana, in Independence Square in the capital Accra, on January 7, 2017. The 72-year-old former human rights lawyer took the oath of office in front of more than 6,000 guests and a roaring crowd. The new president underlined his campaign promise to support entrepreneurs and attract investors to the country, which has suffered from lacklustre growth in recent years. / AFP PHOTO / CRISTINA ALDEHUELA

The winner of Ghana’s presidential election Nana Akufo-Addo (C) takes the oath of office during the swearing-in as elected President of the fourth Republic of Ghana, in Independence Square in the capital Accra, on January 7, 2017.  AFP PHOTO / CRISTINA ALDEHUELA

Nana Akufo-Addo presidency got off to a rocky start Saturday after he was accused of plagiarising portions of inauguration speeches of two former American presidents.

Akufo-Addo was sworn as the 54th president of Ghana, a country described as the “gold standard for democracy in Africa” taking over from John Dramani Mahama. But the new president’s inauguration was blighted by the accusation of directly lifting from Bill Clinton’s 1993 and George Bush’s 2001 presidential inaugural speeches.

In his speech, Bush said: “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character.”

Akufo-Addo, in his on speech, said: “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation. Let us work until the work is done.”

Akufo-Addo also took a portion from Clinton’s January 20, 1993, speech. “Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us,” said Clinton in his speech at the time.

Ghana’s president Saturday speech read thus: “Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Ghanaians have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us.”

This is not the first time West African presidents would be accused of plagiarising American presidents’ speeches.

In September 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari came under fire from critics after admitting part of his “Change Begins With Me” speech was copied from US President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech. His aides put the blame on an unnamed “overzealous speech writer.”

Buhari’s speech read in part “We must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country for so long. Let us summon a new spirit of responsibility, spirit of service, of patriotism and sacrifice. Let us all resolve to pitch in and work hard and look after, not only ourselves but one another.”

Obama had in different parts of his 2008 victory speech said: “Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long…

“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.”



7 Comments
  • Odisu Terry Andrews

    People who have nothing to say or write should remain silent. What is wrong in using the phrase or statements of other people if they are relevant in our circumstances? For instance, everybody has a dream, so if I am addressing an audience in a political rally, will I be accused of plagiarizing Martin Luther King if I begin with I have a dream?

    • John Oputa

      Nothing is wrong but you have to give the original owner the credit else it become piracy and we all know that piracy is stealing.

    • Ogbonnaya Okike

      My very learned there is nothing in say I have a dream but you must be able to say that that was MLK if not then you are stealing.

  • Ako Amadi

    Not a big issue. But it does no harm to reveal the source of your quotations. It’s simple courtesy. Again, why can an African president not formulate his/her own words, or quote from Nkrumah, Padmore, Azikiwe, Soyinka or Achebe…? Why quote from America to appear hip?

    • Ogbonnaya Okike

      Because of INFERIORITY most of them feel. Compare the seat of the African leaders (painted in gold colours) and see the type the USA president is using (very normal out and out).

  • Abakwam Hilary

    My take is that most of our leaders copy and enjoy the praises that is associated with the speech without applying the meaning in governance. I would like our leaders to consider ” local contents ” that are relevant in there speech because we are not only interested in award winning speech ! God bless Nigeria !

  • Crown

    For me it is not the speech they copied that is the issue but their failure to execute the speech they have copied. The originator spoke from the depth of the vision they had before they spoke, but unfortunately our so called leaders in Africa speak with very zero interest and readiness to do and better the lots of those who voted them into power. To them it is just sweet talks or ordinary campaign promises.