Anglophone Struggle - Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla Renews His Commitment To Freedom - Read His Re-commitment Letter.

My fellow sisters and brothers

I am deeply saddened to confirm that part of our father's house in the village was burnt on October 29th, 2017. Thanks to the timely intervention of the neighbours, the fire was put out before it went past My father's bedroom. 

My father was a modest man who instilled in me the values of tolerance and sacrifice, so to see his home burnt and his grave desecrated forces me to pause and reflect on the enormity and volatility of the task that lies ahead of us.

My father passed on just before I was arrested and jailed for initiating the Ghost Towns in my capacity as President of The Consortium. During and after my imprisonment, up to the present moment, most objective observers will affirm that I am no longer in charge of the current strike action. However, as a leader in the struggle, I do not have the luxury of cherry picking the feedback (positive and negative) I have received, but in the interest of the struggle, please permit me to make the following clarifications:

1. The sanctity of human life is paramount. Every leader has a duty to make decisions that minimize the loss of human lives.

2. The freedoms we seek for ourselves must be extended to every other citizen, regardless of our ideological differences.

3. A two-state federation is a legal process that gives our people the outcomes they seek without the huge cost in blood and treasure though the final form of state is determined by the people.

4. The right to self-determination is an inalienable right.

5. It is the duty of every leader in Southern Cameroons to be honest about the choices we face and the cost in blood and treasure so that together we can chart the best course that bequeaths to future generations a legacy that is befitting of our collective potential as a people.

6. As a parent and leader, I believe our kids ought to be in school; however, a return to normalcy would require that the government fully address the root cause of the current crises that resulted in the school closure - even as we explore alternative strategies to pressure the government to act.
Felix Nkongho Agbor Balla Renews His Commitment To Freedom - Read His Re-commitment Letter.
7. I have and still condemn arbitrary arrests and stand for the release of all detainees. Reason why on September 27, 2017 task-force of lawyers was created to defend all arrested following the unfortunate events of September 22nd and October 1st, 2017. We have successfully secured the release through bail and discharge of approximately 200 persons from pretrial detention through full trials. And we will continue to fight for the rest.

8. Every strategy we adopt must seek to minimize the personal and financial burden on our citizens.

9. When important decisions are presented to the people with arguments for and against, the people are in the best position to make decision that will impact current and future generations.

Together, we have come a long way since this phase in our 55+ year struggle started in January. In the weeks and months ahead, my prayer is that we as a people will have to create a healthy environment to debate issues that will not only affect us, but generations yet to be born. Without debate, democracy is inherently compromised.

I pray for the many lives lost, livelihoods destroyed, families torn apart; for those incarcerated and those that have been unable to return home since this struggle began. Let us all pray for our nation. Let us also pray for those who preach hate against us.

With faith and resolve in our cause, I wish to appeal for calm, understanding and tolerance. I ask you to pray for our nation and its leaders. I ask you to pray that God grants our leaders the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can and above all the wisdom to understand the differences that brought us here or must be considered to build a nation that is tolerant and free.

Today more than ever, I believe the nation of tomorrow will be a land where we can harness our differences and transform our diversity into an asset. We can use our diversity to divide or we can use it to create a melting pot that attracts everyone and creates a force for good. The Southern Cameroons problem is a byproduct of the systematic failure to manage and promote diversity over 55+ years, and if our generation does not practice tolerance, we foreclose our opportunity to create the nation we dream of.

But to change a country, it begins with each of us. We must soften our hearts and accept that together, we have been imperfect in our stewardship of our affairs since independence was granted to us. Now that we have been blessed to be at the forefront of the struggle, mistakes will be made. I have learned from my transgressions and solemnly ask for your forgiveness and tolerance.

You are entitled to hold views that are contrary to mine. That said, I ask you to continue to engage on these issues, and if we must disagree, let us try not to be disagreeable. Ultimately, we can only succeed if all viewpoints are included in a national conversation on the future of our people. If we disagree without being disagreeable, we can work together to change the lives of our people for the better. A modern nation is one that fosters the building of ideological bridges so that when disagreement is absolutely necessary, tolerance can save us from each other.

My Fellow Southern Cameroonians - all human beings want to be free. But more important is the path we choose to get our freedom. Also important is whether we do so in a manner that builds a strong foundation for future generations. We started this struggle as a non-violent movement and while I recognize and have been extremely critical of the violence meted out against our people, my conviction to non-violence has not changed. To accept the notion that we can only control our destiny through the barrel of a gun is to create a society where the only people who decide our fate are the people with the biggest guns. Violence is never the answer because it weakens our moral position. Violence boils the blood but it kills the soul. And in the 21st century, we should be focused on how we build a nation that is fair, prosperous and free – for if we do not, our people risk being left behind while the world moves on.

Since I got out of jail, I have been in consultation with several leaders of our struggle - but above all, I have been in direct contact with the people on the ground. Our problems are real, difficult and pervasive. There is no sector, town, village or constituency in Southern Cameroons that is not impacted. As such, we have to think deeply and comprehensively about how we overcome the task in front of us. If any leader tells you it can be resolved through one strategy, they have not thought about these issues as seriously as we should.

I do not have the answers - but I am supremely confident that the people do. And if we have to create a new society that works for all, the first step on the road to change is a renewal of our commitment to tolerance. Without tolerance and freedom of thought, we risk creating a society where we are led by people with the loudest megaphones, as opposed to the people with the best ideas. I do not believe that is the kind of future we want for our children - because the character of our discourse will ultimately define the destiny of our people.

I appeal to each and every one of you to reflect on exploring several other routes to achieving our goals. A political plan works for the government but we must think beyond. What is the plan for the people? If the government calls for dialogue today, what steps must we take? If elections are called today, and we are not represented across all levels of the electorate, what will that mean to our struggle? If we do not participate in the process, how do we influence the outcomes? If negotiations are initiated today, how do we ensure that the terms of reference will fulfill the collective aspirations of our people? I can go on and on with questions – but while I can state categorically that we will not agree on the answers, I am hopeful that even the people who disagree with my positions will agree that these are questions that are best answered if we allow diversity to flourish and choose the answers that advance the interests of our people.

My dear sisters and brothers – I dream of a future where every Southern Cameroonian lives in a true democracy – a nation where diversity of thought, words and actions continually nourishes the tree of unity. That nation starts in your heart and in mine.

I will be praying for you - and ask you to pray for me in the critical weeks and months ahead.

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