Open Letter To Balla, Fontem And Ayah: Because we know what we want.
As Southern Cameroonians or those who call themselves Anglophones, we will all agree that the fundamental issues of the crisis have not been addressed. Francophone judges and magistrates still flood our courts. Francophone teachers still flood our schools. A deep look into the issues raised by the teachers and lawyers will show that nothing concretely has been done. If anything has been done, it is only in words or cosmetics.
We are aware that the killings, abductions of our leaders, Chief Supreme Court Judge and people were never the issues that started this crisis. These issues were only meant to derail and slow the movement down so that instead for us to focus on the real issues, we will be focusing on getting our people out of jails. But God being so kind, for the many months our people were locked up, we combined both. Tapang and Myself took the mantle and that has been transformed and passed over to Sisiku Ayuk Tabe. We continued to push through on the issues which brought the crisis and at the same time we were fighting for the release of our people, the same how we fought for others to be release before the famous December Bamenda meeting with the ad hoc committee.
We will all agree that should we had stayed quiet or should schools had resumed last academic year with our people still in jail, La Republique should have used it as the best opportunity to slam jail terms on Balla, Fontem, Ayah and all others arrested. We know for the fact that La Republique and most especially Biya and Laurent Esso had an axe to grind with Ayah. As a result of our collective resistance and determination, international bodies came in, as a result school resumption kept failing, Ghost Towns intensified even after their numerous marches in Buea, Victoria, Kumba and Bamenda. You will understand the fight the regime did in starting schools while you were jailed but we resisted. Nothing changed, La Republique has now seen that in order to pass a wedge between us so as to see schools resume, the best thing to do will be to release three main leaders and few others while keeping some in jails in Kondengui, SED, Bamenda and Buea. This way, the old hands of 1961 through out Ahidjo era will be replayed while we fight each other and they smile. Yet, again missing the opportunity to restore even the so called two states federation-something which is a taboo to the present regime.
We are aware that Biya’s decision to release our leaders and some is not borne out of good faith nor is it out of the good faith of the governors in Buea and Bamenda who received some of you with crocodile smiles nor was it at the request of CPDM Mayors, senators, parliamentarians and other officials who along the line have shown strong disgusting attitudes towards your persons and the struggle with some like Mayor Ekema calling for death sentences. It is only due to our collective resistance and determination as well as diplomatic offensive which bore the pressure. The visit of Biya’s ministers to the diaspora gave them a bitter lesson. The messages his agents had on the field in Southern Cameroonians were unanimous in response: Free All Arrested, demilitarised our towns and call for a genuine dialogue. Even Bishop Kleda visit to all Anglophone parishes, the messages were same.
We are therefore entering a new academic year, can we sincerely say that anything has change? Can we pinpoint those things that the Government has done to warrant school resumption? Should students just go back to school because few persons have been released and that’s ends it all? Are we thinking that people have been promoted to the next class without any studies or exams? Are we thinking of those who left the Cameroons and are in the exile because of the struggle? These are things we must be thinking and putting into consideration before we call for normalcy. While we are bothering about school resumption, we must not get into an education without the necessary solutions and the biggest picture must be looked at which is restoring our institutions. School shutdown is our biggest non violence power to get this regime on its knees and put them on the dialogue table. We have seen that it can work. We have seen their actions and yes it can work. It is not time to fall back on that.
Therefore, should we allow schools to resume, then we must have sacrificed an opportunity to make Southern Cameroons, West Cameroon, Anglophone Cameroon or whatever you call it restore her place in West or Central Africa. Should schools resume, then we must have sacrificed Mancho and all those in jail because we know it very well that by September 28th when their case comes up, it will be postpone again and again until things are ok with eventual jail terms on them. We know these truths. We must therefore apply the wisdom of all for one and one for all knowing that should we had allowed schools to resume last academic year or stopped Ghost Towns and anything to do with the struggle, then all those who are released today could have stayed in jail because as La Republique termed all of you as terrorists, it should have been a better opportunity to nail all those abducted to set an example. Thus, we must also stand for Mancho and others NOW without any iota of doubts until all are out with eventual dialogue.
My special call to Barrister Balla and Dr. Fontem who are the two Consortium leaders released is that they should take some time off and do a deep reflection. They must have a deep reflection on what caused them to start this struggle in the first place. They must have a deep reflection on why they formed the Consortium. They must have a deep reflection on the sacrifices the people of Southern Cameroons have made and they must have a deep reflection if sincerely at this point in time, they can in few years ahead look back to history and said ” Yes, I did it. I contributed in making great change in the Cameroons”. They must look back at their 14th January 2017 communique which says all must be released unconditionally and referendum called. They must ask themselves if all have been released as of now. They must ask themselves if those missing are accounted for. They must ask themselves if the government is ready for dialogue to discuss the root causes of the problem as the United Nations recommended. They must ask themselves if they look around now, they will truly see anything that the government has done. They must look across Southern Cameroons to see if the streets are without military, if daily abductions have stopped. They must ask themselves if they can truly talk on behalf of the Consortium since it remains banned ? They must ask themselves if it is not yet time to call on Government to uplift the ban of the Consortium so that they can take their rightful places. They must ask themselves if truly this regime wants to dialogue and dialogue with who since the Consortium is banned as well as all lawyers association remained banned. They must ask themselves the road the struggle has taken since they were jailed and reconciled themselves with development. They must give an eye to their colleagues in exile. They must ask themselves if they have to put the people of “West Cameroon” first or the state of Cameroun first. They must ask themselves if those colonial administrators who received them including some lecturers, mayor of Buea etc really wanted them out. These are the questions, I am expecting Barrister Balla and Dr. Fontem to reflect and answer before making their first official public statement because as our leaders the people are expecting to hear from them and what they think at this stage.
As for Chief Justice Ayah, he must ask himself if ten state Federation which he was preaching as his position before jail is even worth it anymore. The judge must come out strong after enough rest and medical check up to share in the development of our struggle. The judge must take steps to sue the state for illegal detention. What contributions will the judge bring hence after being released? The judge will be the one to answer this as we look upon him in the days ahead as our most senior Southern Cameroons Judge.
And whatsoever they will say will determine their relationship with the people of Southern Cameroons and the state of Cameroun. It is a difficult time and choice but God has given you people the grace to lead for we are with you. I will advise those released and our leaders to take some few days off, have some good rest, take up private medical check up then come back to talk to your people who cried, wept and fought for you till released. It is not over yet. Make no hasty interviews, statements etc which will come back at you or weaken or divide the people. We call for tact and wisdom in whatever you say, or pronounce. You must reflect on all what I have written above, for I have done it with love, respect for our leaders, people and Southern Cameroons state.
On our part, our released leaders must be aware that, we have taken the commitment to continue the struggle to see Mancho and the rest out because we know that if we relax now, it is over for Mancho. Our leaders must understand that it is because of these, we are pushing forth for no school resumption come Monday and Intensification of Ghost Towns until all are out and genuine dialogue called.
Soban, 1997 Batch
From Manyu and Bui Counties
Southern Cameroons Activist
Founder and CEO, Bareta Media And Communications