Opinions Wed, 11 Jan 2017

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Plagiarism hunt; organised distraction

Political Speeches are not academic papers. The NDC clearly out of government is looking to raise tempest out of dust from the President's inaugural address. This is much ado about nothing. In their classic modus oparandi, the NDC is seeking to distract Ghanaians from the battered economy they left behind and the wisdom the President shared. The call on the nation to rise and build a prosperous Ghana is immediate! Isn't it surprising the NDC is suddenly expert on speeches when Presidents Mahama, Rawlings and late Atta Mills have all borrowed ideas from each other and other sources?

Ladies and gentlemen, it is insightful to note that Presidents have usually provided the ideas for their speeches, leaving the speechwriters to provide the flesh. Furthermore, by convention speechwriters borrowing ideas and phrases, in some cases whole paragraphs is not new. It is a standard industry practice.Â

Throughout political speeches, politicians have borrowed wisdom from one another and from history and convention, have the liberty to footnote, acknowledge the original ideas or avoid the two altogether. This practice does not negate their vision or the message they seek to share. Is it wrong to borrow wisdom from genuine sources as in this case?


AFAG wishes to cite some few examples to buttress our point. These politicians are the most intelligent and experienced around today yet they sometime feel at liberty to borrow from one another. These cases include;

Barack Obama: In the 2008 Democratic primaries, then candidate Obama was accused by senator Clinton for plagiarizing from Deval Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts and John Edwards. The phrase in contention was: “Don’t tell me words don’t matter.” Are we saying that Obama was daft not to have coined these words?Â

Senator Clinton the accuser of Obama, it turned out that, had also borrowed lots of lines from Obama, John Edwards and even from Bernie Sanders as late as 2016. Notably, this was the phrase in contention; “No bank can be too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail.”

Joe Biden in 1988 was also accused of borrowing his famous phrase: “My ancestors who worked in the coal mines…” from the biography of the British Labour party leader Neal Kinnock.Â

Another case fresh on our minds is the apparent lifting of parts of speeches of Michelle Obama in her RNC convention speech. Melania Trump received lots of attention for this incident. Ladies and gentle, Michelle Obama in 2008 was also accused of lifting parts of her Democratic National Convention (DNC) convention speech from Saul Alinksky!

On the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, President Bush gave one of the best speeches of his political career. At it turned out, the paragraph; “an evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland” was a quote from Adolf Hitler’s at a speech he gave in 1933 when terrorists burned down the German parliament house. A similar occurrence to 9/11!

At this point AFAG believes the picture is clear. Leaders have throughout decades borrowed ideas, which reflects on their vision, situation and lines of thought. Leaders have sought not to reinvent the wheel but to rather tap into the wisdom of their colleagues and other sources. What the President did was to reconstitute ideas from some of the brightest political minds, which are still relevant to the times, and reflects on his vision. Can anyone say that the quotes the President leaned on are not relevant the Ghanaian situation? Should we not come together to build a better nation?

AFAG's research shows that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. J. B. Danquah, first used the NDC's popular "Better Ghana" phrase in various speeches in the liberation struggles.


The nation must move on. Presidential speeches are not academic papers. Political speeches have their conventions, ethos and environment, which cannot be situated in the arena of dissertation. They are speeches. The essence of which is to convey a vision; call to do duty and summon the energies of the listeners to a common cause.Â

The President just did that and AFAG welcomes his call to duty to rebuild Ghana from the greatest harm the NDC has done to our economy and country.Â

AFAG believes that, the nation should reflect on some of the issues raised by the President, among which were the re-affirmation and commitment to serve the nation; need for the three arms of government; the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary to collaborate and work in equality rather than the purported competition for superiority - in the ultimate interest of Ghana; the need for restoration of Integrity in public life by demanding accountability in all transactions; protecting state coffers from party activists; supporting the private sector to be the engine of growth among many others.

We Congratulate you Mr President for the greatest presidential inaugural speech in the history of Ghana.

God Bless Ghana!!!

Columnist: AFAG

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