Saturday, 14 September 2019 22:51:11

When Copy Loves Paste

A Story of Plagiarism Gone Wrong

By the middle of Form One, Robert had made quite a number of friends in Form Two.

One of them was Chris.

They had attended the same primary school; and, when Robert joined high school, Chris helped him find his way around.

He held his hand; as an elder brother would, and he defended him when older boys in his class tried to bully him.

When school reopened after second term, Robert wanted to write a letter; but he didn't know how to go about it. He had not written such a letter before, and he needed some guidance.

He asked Chris to assist him; and, as usual, Chris responded like an elder brother.

"That's simple," he assured Robert. "I just finished writing such a letter this morning, but I have not posted it. You can copy mine."

That evening, Robert retreated to his desk to write his first-ever letter of this nature.

He copied Chris' letter, word by word; and, after he finished, he read it several times to make sure it was perfect:


"Dear Florence,

I thank God for giving me this golden opportunity to find out how you are navigating the academic weather at Lugulu Girls.

I have been thinking about you since the last time we met at your father's shop in Kitale.

Your brown complexion and the pink dress you were wearing are still fresh in my mind...."

(The letter was five pages)


When he was satisfied that the letter sounded great, he slipped it into an envelope, sealed it, and affixed a stamp.

Then he added a "By Airmail" sticker. Chris had told him that such a sticker would make the recipient think he was sophisticated.

He then addressed the envelope exactly as it appeared on the small note she had given him; then, on Saturday, he went to town to post it.

Her reply came three weeks later...


"Dear Robert,

Thank you very much for thinking about me.

I hope you are well.

I am writing to inform you that I received the envelope you sent, but the letter inside was not mine.

Firstly, my name is Janet, not Florence.

Secondly, my father does not own a shop in Kitale, I have never been to Kitale, and therefore you could not have met me there.

Thirdly, my school is Moi Girls, not Lugulu Girls.

Finally, I don't have a pink dress and am dark-skinned. Therefore, I can't be the brown-complexion girl you met wearing a pink dress.

Don't write to me again if you can't get your facts right.




Her letter stressed Robert, and he took it to Chris to ask him what he had done wrong; and Chris was surprised Robert had copied his letter word-by-word.

"You should have changed names of people and places," Chris advised him.

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