New Ghanaian President's Speech Sounds Familiar

Jan 10, 2017
Originally published on January 10, 2017 2:16 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are 10 days from Inauguration Day here in Washington. Ghana already had a presidential inauguration last weekend, and it had a surprising resemblance to past inaugurations here in the United States. You really have to listen for yourself to NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.

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PRESIDENT NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO: And that I will preserve, protect...

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Ghana's new president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, is a seasoned politician and an articulate public speaker. He's a former foreign and justice minister and a veteran lawyer known to have a way with words in and out of the courtroom. So Ghanians and assembled dignitaries were looking forward to his maiden speech as president.

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AKUFO-ADDO: I stand here today humbled beyond measure for the opportunity to lead this country at this time and take us to a higher level of development.

QUIST-ARCTON: He did not disappoint - statesmanlike some commentators called the speech - as Akufo Addo reveled in a moment of triumph at his third attempt to become president of Ghana. It was only after Saturday's swearing in that social media lit up with indignation. Why? Well, take a listen.

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BILL CLINTON: Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths.

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AKUFO-ADDO: Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths.

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CLINTON: Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people.

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AKUFO-ADDO: Ghanians have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people.

QUIST-ARCTON: President Akufo-Addo 2017. Just a tweak in the country but otherwise apparently lifted word for word from President Bill Clinton's inaugural address in 1993. And there's more.

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GEORGE W. BUSH: I ask you to be citizens.

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AKUFO-ADDO: I ask you to be citizen.

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BUSH: Citizens not spectators.

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AKUFO-ADDO: Citizens not spectators.

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BUSH: Building communities of service and a nation of character.

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AKUFO-ADDO: Building your communities and our nation.

QUIST-ARCTON: President Akufo-Addo on Saturday and before him, President George W. Bush inaugural speech 2001. There was a swift Facebook apology from the new Ghanian president's freshly minted communications director. More embarrassment than lasting political or diplomatic damage for Akufo-Addo, say the pundits, but Ghana has egg on its face. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Johannesburg. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.