They give us their bright smiles and make the crowd electric with promises here and there, especially during campaigns – speaking never seems to be an issue. However, when it comes to delivering written speeches, things don’t always seem to go as planned.
The latest victim of such mistakes is Ghana’s newly sworn in President, Nana Akufo-Addo, the 54th in the country’s history as his presidency got off on the bad foot. The new president got the receiving end of the stick from many citizens and observers as his inaugural speech was said to be punctuated with statements by former American presidents.
“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.”
While George W. Bush in 2001 said:
“I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character.”
Again, Akufo-Addo said:
“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.”
However, Bill Clinton in 1993 said:
“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.”
The communication director in the presidency, Eugene Arhin, acknowledged the plagiarism and offered an apology, but that was not enough to appease the feathers of an apparently ruffled president who fired the director.
Nana Akufo-Addo also apologised for the mistake.
The recent development is not a new development as this is not the first time a politician would be accused of plagiarising another’s speech.
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari issued an apology in September 2016 for plagiarising quotes from US President Barack Obama.
But even the best of us have been accused of this gaffe when it comes to delivered speeches.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said President Barack Obama had “lifted rhetoric” from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, to which the outgoing American President admitted to using some of Deval’s words.
In 2015, Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson was red-flagged by BuzzFeed after lifting material from a number of books and online sources for his 2012 book “America the Beautiful.”
How can we easily forget the controversy that ensued over Melania Trump’s convention speech in words that were not entirely hers? A “lazy writer” was accused of trying to sabotage her while plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech.
Plagiarism scandals are slowly beginning to ridicule West African leaders, as whatever they say is finely scrutinised; questions are asked as to whether they are trying to pass a point or give a speech for speech sake and eventually fire a “lazy” speech writer when errors are found.