09/08/2017 14:25:58: Chief Norbert Mbile: In one of those my moments of "scattered thoughts and emotions,I have been reflecting on this write up whose author am still to know.please read well to think,and not only to react.God be our protector.

"Brussels on my Mind"

I have been pondering over the events of last weekend – the meetings between various Cameroon Government delegations and Southern Cameroon activists abroad – and their wider implications for the future of this Facebook euphoria some are calling a "struggle".

I think it is clear to everyone that sending government delegations to various countries abroad to discuss the crisis back at home was ridiculous, ill-advised and a sheer waste of tax payer's money.

From the choice of countries that the delegation was due to visit (Belgium, USA, South Africa and the UK) it was evident that the aim was to discuss the Anglophone Crisis that has gripped the nation for close to a year now.

And that is exactly where the ridiculousness of the whole idea lies. What was the whole point in engaging with activists abroad on a subject that is considered a taboo back at home and for which many are languishing in a jail? It would have made more sense if these discussions took place at home, not in the Diaspora. And again, what was the point in sending delegations abroad to hold discussions with the Cameroonian Diaspora, just a few months after the holding of a Diaspora Forum in Yaoundé? Wouldn't it have made more sense to just incorporate the Anglophone Crisis as a subject of discussion during the Forum?

Or was the Government throwing a bait to Southern Cameroon activists? If that was the objective then it succeeded 100%, for the activists blindly took the bait.

I will explain.

Sitting on the table at Brussels meeting was Laurent Esso, the Minister of Justice. He is known to be a close confidant to Mr Biya and is considered one of the kingpins of the Biya regime. As Justice Minister, he holds the key to any eventual release of our brothers and sisters languishing in jail. With that in mind, I expected the Southern Cameroon activists to organize themselves, think critically and come up with a strategy on how to constructively engage Mr Esso on the issue of our jailed brothers. I further expected them to politely and but thoroughly grill him on the subject of the detainees, with the objective of getting him to state publicly and on record why the Government is holding Anglophone Cameroonians for long periods without trial and when it intends to release them. Let us also bear in mind that this meeting was holding almost at the same time that a video emerged online, purportedly showing 12 young Anglophone Cameroonians being held under inhumane conditions in what was said to be an underground dungeon at the Gendarmerie HQ. That was a God-given opportunity offered to the activists to table engage Mr Esso on the issue.

But no, the activists didn't do any of that. Rather they choose to put up a raucous, disorderly and violent show for the whole world to see. I really do not know what purpose this thuggish behavior was intended to serve. But it was clearly an opportunity lost for Southern Cameroon activists. I am sure the whole thing was managed such that it will end of on Facebook as proof that "we are winning bigly".

What happened in Brussels in and Pretoria last weekend is another proof of the kind of leadership involved in this "struggle". It lacks the diplomatic savvy, the political maturity, the critical thinking and strategic planning skills needed to lead movement of this magnitude. In fact, I expected Mr. Tabe Julius (now said to be titular head of the struggle) to fly to Brussels, and seek to meet with Mr Esso , even in private, to discuss the release of Anglophones held in various jails and detention centers in Yaoundé. He did not. Rather he endorsed the pathetically violent conduct of his lieutenants on the ground.

I think it was Shimon Peres, former Israeli Prime Minister, who said there are two things you should never do on camera: i) have sex, and ii) carry out negotiations.

Given the growing penchant within the Anglophone community at home and abroad for making sex tapes, I have no advice to offer on the first point. But on the second point, I must tell my young Southern Cameroon activists that not every meeting you hold, and not every move you make need to end up on Facebook. Negotiations are always held away from the glare of the public and tv cameras.They should also remember that in a crisis or conflict situation there is nothing wrong with holding secret or private meetings with your opponents, if such meetings help advance your agenda.

When Mandela took the decision to start talking with the Apartheid government, he didn't even inform his cell mates. Dr Martin Luther King was known to hold private and secret meetings with President Lyndon Johnson and White House staff during the months and weeks leading up to the signing of the Voters Act. And to bring the example closer to home: in 1993, during the fight for the creation of the GCE Board, we were demonstrating in the streets by day and holding secret meetings with the Government by night. Azong Wara, the man who led the fight then, has since publicly acknowledged the role played by Achidi Achu in the creation of the board, most which was fashioned out during those secret meetings.

So my advice to the Southern Cameroon activists is: don't be shy to constructively engage with the Government even in private, if you're convinced it will help de-escalate the situation and advance your cause. Whether you like it or not, only genuine dialogue will end this crisis, not ghost towns or school boycott. So the sooner you shed this obnoxious disorderly conduct and start horning your negotiation skills, the better for you.

Coming back to last weekend's events in Brussels and Pretoria. The government threw the activists a bait and they swallowed it hook and sinker. I am sure Issa Chiroma should be glowing from molar to molar. I predict that in the days ahead, he will convene the international and national press to show them footage of what happened on Brussels and Pretoria as one more proof that Southern Cameroon activists are a bunch of violent, disorderly rabble rousers, not at all interested in dialogue. And I am sure his colleague of Foreign Affairs will call in all the heads of diplomatic missions in Yaoundé and show them the same footage and for the same reason.

This "struggle" will suffer immense reputational risk as at home and abroad as a result of the raucous conduct of its activists.
Maybe that is what happens when you have boys trying to do a men's job.
But again, what do I even know?

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