Africa 9.1.2017 10:36 am

Ghana’s new president apologises for plagiarism

The presidency’s communication director acknowledged the plagiarism and offered an apology.

In an embarrassing start to his new presidency, Ghana’s new head of state has apologised for plagiarism during his inaugural speech.

The office of Nana Akufo-Addo issued an apology on Sunday after he was accused of lifting passages from speeches by Bill Clinton and George W Bush during his inaugural address to the nation, Al Jazeera reported on Monday.

Following his Saturday swearing-in-ceremony in the capital Accra, social media users started pointing out similarities between Akufo-Addo’s speech and those delivered by the two former US presidents.

“Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Ghanaians have been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us,” Akufo-Addo said.

It echoed Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration speech: “Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. And Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. We must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who come before us.”

In another instance, Akufo-Addo said: “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation.”

In his 2001 inaugural speech, George W 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.”

The presidency’s communication director acknowledged the plagiarism and offered an apology.

“I unreservedly apologise for the non-acknowledgement of this quote to the original author. It was a complete oversight, and never deliberate,” Eugene Arhin said, according to DPA news agency.

Akufo-Addo, 72, a former human rights lawyer, defeated incumbent John Dramani Mahama in last month’s elections.

This gaffe, however, was not the first for a West African president. In September, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also issued an apology for plagiarising quotes from US President Barack Obama in a speech promising change in the country.

Buhari’s office said at the time a paragraph in the speech urging Nigerians not to fall back “on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country so long” was copied from Obama’s victory speech after his election in November 2008.

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