Actually, it was Ghana’s first postcolonial President, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, who started this unseasonable and intellectually flagitious act of plagiarism, when the Nkroful native, from Ghana’s Western Region, proudly and publicly and, some say, shamelessly claimed to have personally invented some phenomenon called the “African Personality,” when it was, in fact, the US Virgin Islands-born and mainland American-educated African-American (or Afro-Caribbean) scholar-sociologist by the name of Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden. The latter personality is historically regarded as the founder of the University of Liberia. Blyden is also known to have done some seminal scholastic work in the neighboring country of Sierra Leone.
This Nkrumah-fangled plagiarism came to light, when the globally recognized, renowned and erudite historian, novelist and political scientist, namely, Prof. Ali A. Mazrui, late, composed his nine-part television documentary series with an accompanying book called “The Africans: A Triple Heritage” (1987), and the Kenyan scholar was virulently and maliciously accused of plagiarism by some ignorant and fanatical Nkrumacrats. It was then that Prof. Mazrui hit back with a vengeance by authoritatively, albeit diplomatically, pointing out that the very concept of the “Triple Heritage” of the “African Personality,” defined as a complex cultural amalgam of Christianity, Islam and Indigenous African Traditions, had actually been propounded and theoretically developed by Dr. Blyden long before the birth of Mr. Nkrumah.
But, of course, in recent years, it was the speechwriters and protocol operatives of former President John Dramani Mahama who committed the most egregious and farcical level of the plagiarism faux-pas, when they put on Ghana’s Independence Anniversary Celebration brochure, the name of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta as the bona fide President of the Democratic Republic of Ghana. At another time and in another country, the entire protocol team and the speechwriters of Mr. Mahama would have gotten promptly fired and been successfully sued for criminal impersonation as well. I personally believe that this apparent Freudian-Slip was a grim but inescapable signal on the part of the Mahama speechwriters and protocol officials that the political die was already cast, as it were, vis-à-vis the then-impending massive electoral loss of the former Atta-Mills’ arch-lieutenant to the then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
And, of course, there have been pointed out in the past, a legion of instances in which the former Rawlings’ Communications Minister was caught in the lurid vice of plagiarism. Of course, the foregoing in no way excused the plagiarized portions of the President’s Inaugural Address to the nation on January 7, 2017. In the latter instance, yours truly was plunged into a traumatic daze for the better part of a week, racking his mnemonic bank in order to figure out precisely why such an epically embarrassing act of intellectual property theft had been allowed to transpire, when all that the Akufo-Addo speechwriters could have done to avoid such contretemps, ought to have been to simply acknowledge the sources of the ideas that had been borrowed from the speeches of other globally renowned leaders, notably, some past presidents of the United States.
In the latest act of plagiarism, in which a photograph of the skyline and skyscraper of Kenya’s Dawit Insurance Agency Limited edifice was allegedly used as the front-cover of President Akufo-Addo’s fiscal policy campaign agenda called “Ghana Beyond Aid” (See “Ghana Apologizes for Plagiarizing Photo of Kenya Skyline” 3News.com / Ghanaweb.com 5/31/19), it is ironic to learn that some of the same opposition party politicians, particularly those belonging to the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress, who only a couple of days ago were beside themselves with anger and frustration over the decision by the Akufo-Addo Administration not to allow the 56th Anniversary Celebration of the African Union Day to be observed as a National Holiday, who have self-righteously and smugly jumped onto the flatbed of the plagiarism-accusation truck, glaringly ignoring the fact that in principle, with Kenya’s being a major player of the African Union (AU), this plagiarism accusation may, after all, not be plagiarism at all, but a salutary celebration of our common African identity and destiny.
Dear Reader: Remember that AU article-of-faith or mantra? “An injury to one is an injury to all”? Well, we could equally and felicitously extend this salient article-of-faith as follows: “An asset to one is an asset to all.” And here, must all argument cease!
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
June 1, 2019
E-mail: okoampaah[email protected]
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