Nana Akufo-Addo presidency got off to a really rocky start on 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 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.”