Feature Article of Wed, 11 Jan 201753

Saint Akufo-Addo in the web of the moral shame of new-age plagiarism

“A wise man will always allow a fool to rob him of ideas without yelling ‘Thief.’ If he is wise he has not been impoverished. Nor has the fool been enriched. The thief flatters us by stealing. We flatter him by complaining” (Ben Hecht).

THIS FORM OF SHAMELESS NEW-AGE PLAGIARISM CONSTITUTES A MAJOR FALSE START FOR THE AKUFO-ADDO ADMINISTRATION

This scandalous plagiarism episode in our nation’s recent political history constitutes a huge embarrassment for Akufo-Addo, his government, Ghana, and Africa.

Of course plagiarism is a universal problem, perhaps more so in the Ghanaian educational system where in many an instance pre-university teachers and university instructors and professors alike, hardly take time to critically read, if at all, or pay close attention to end-of-term researched papers, theses, and dissertations assigned to students.

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Accordingly, no one should tell us Akufo-Addo never read, proofread, or even practiced the said speech prior to its official delivery on January 7, 2017. That would have been tantamount to a breach of commonsense—or standard—protocol. As well, no competent, intelligent, and proactive leader does that. What Rev. Emmanuel Martey makes of this is only a matter of speculation!

Then again acquired skills from legal writing do not necessarily or readily transfer to the technical world of speech writing. We have in mind Akufo-Addo as a “lawyer” with some vast experience in the general technicalities of legal writing.

As a matter of fact, even more so Akufo-Addo should have closely read, proofread and practiced the text of his inaugural speech well in advance of the swearing-in occasion, to ascertain whether the speech’s broad outlook stood compatible with his political ideology and philosophy, with his vision for Ghana, and perhaps also, most significantly, with what he wanted Ghanaians and the international community to know about his intentions as regards the strategic and tactical particularity of his leadership style.

The important question is, is Akufo-Addo ever going to read documents thoroughly and with the benefit of proactive discernment and critical caution before signing them into law, say?

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Wasn’t Akufo-Addo’s speech writer(s) in the know that plagiarism detection software abounds? Or it was Akufo-Addo himself who authored the speech? Is Eugene’s apology enough to assuage public anger over NPP’s hypocrisy? Why will anybody in this age and time underestimate the power of social media?

Would it have made any difference if Akufo-Addo had delivered the speech extemporaneously? Who actually wrote the speech? Was it Eugene Arhin? Can the tool of stylometry be helpful in unraveling the true writer’s voice identity of the anonymous writer (ghostwriter) behind the plagiarized speech?

Well, when all is said and done, could it be possible that Arhin was merely taking the heat for his boss—Akufo-Addo? We need to know the answer to this question before anyone can properly apportion blame.

All the same, we should learn to avoid the emotional and psychological trauma of political equalization as far as explaining away this shameful act of plagiarism is concerned. Political equalization, if we understand the concept well, is good only to the extent that it offers practical, teachable precedents for corrective measures to be taken against entrenched impunity and moral decay in the Ghanaian body politic.

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And, finally, we can probably understand why a spelling error involving Ama Ata Aidoo’s name became a national disgrace.

What is happening?

It was not long ago when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was all over the place accusing Hassan Ayariga’s All People’s Congress (APC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of plagiarizing its manifesto.

So, why is the angelic or saintly NPP doing the same, if we may ask? Is it the case that what is good for the goose is no longer equally good for the gander?

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It is indeed unpardonably egregious, and Akufo-Addo must be allowed to swear in again, and then compelled to give the same speech again, but this time a holistically revised or edited one with proper attributions. In fact Akufo-Addo has to start all over again. This is the right thing to do.

Otherwise the false start puts the country in an ethically and morally slumberous coma. Ex-President Kufuor’s advice that Ghanaians “treat words of new President seriously” should be taken with a grain of salt. Kufuor can never be taken serious. This man promised zero tolerance for corruption yet his government turned out to be one of the most corrupt in Ghana’s political history.

Still, which “words” were Kufuor referring to? The plagiarized ones? Whoever authored the speech may probably have wanted to bamboozle the audience by courting audience members to come to terms that Akufu-Addo, Ghana’s newest president was more than capable of extravagant philosophical sophistication, even of florid rhetoric, but this strategy may have backfired as the plagiarism accusations rather than textual exegesis of the swearing-in speech took center stage.

Akufo-Addo’s presidency is unoriginal. It is a plagiarized presidency when Rev. Owusu Bempah revealed that angels came down from heaven to vote him. Angels who condone plagiarism! What?

We shall return…

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