(Borkena) Nelson Mandela’ s “Long Walk to Freedom” and his own life could have been very short if it was not for a scrupulous Guta Dinka, Ethiopian Commando who was assigned as a secret guard to protect Mandela during the course of his military training in Ethiopia in the early 1960’s.
Once the ANC came to realize that peaceful struggle with Apartheid was impossible, fighting Apartheid militarily was part of the strategy that ANC has to engage in. To that end, ANC leaders left South Africa clandestinely to plan and facilitate the struggle.
And Mandela has to find himself in Ethiopia , a country very much committed for the freedom of African countries from the yoke of oppression and colonialism.
The Apartheid regime traced the whereabouts of Mandela and had to plan assassination on Mandela -a plan which was supposed to be carried out through mercenary enterprise.
Dinka Guta was secretly approached with a price tag of £2000, a value that could revolutionized a meager life of a soldier, for a mission to kill Mandela using his access. Guta was also to flee oversee once the mission is accomplished.
What was standing between the £2000 and an “opportunity” to go oversea on the one hand and the special commando ,Guta Dinka, who was tipped to strangulate Mandela to death on the other was the conscience and integrity of Guta Dinka.
Greed and betrayal were weak enough to trick strong moral standings of Guta Dinka. A loyalty to Ethiopian value and for the mission of protecting Mandela mattered more for Guta rather than the mercenary enterprise. That act of bravery is not just a remarkable Ethiopian history. It is also a remarkable story in “Mandela’s” “Long Walk to Freedom” and by implication a remarkable story of ANC and South Africa.
Very unfortunately, it’s also a story oblivious to many of us. It never came to the surface to see day light until the death of Mandela. Sadly, Mandela himself didn’t know about it. Colonel Tadesse Biru, commander of Guta Dinka, and few other people were involved in foiling the assassination attempt and apparently an arrest was made at the time.
Even after the story is public, this remarkable story of Ethiopian integrity is not given the attention it deserves. Ethiopian officials who were invited to Mandela funeral never cared about making Guta Dinka part of their entourage and Guta Dinka had to find his way to fly to South Africa for Mandela funeral.
Guta Dinka is unsung hero. Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam, renowned politicians and human rights activist in Ethiopia, called on his fellow Ethiopians to honor Captain Guta Dinka.
A Couple of days ago, a campaign is launched on social media to celebrate and honor Guta Dinka. It remains to be seen if Ethiopians, in Ethiopia and the world over, and members of the new generation Ethiopia value this story of Ethiopian integrity which is related to a remarkable figure in South African struggle for freedom. Would Guta Dinka ultimately witness grand celebration of his defiance to a mercenary enterprise?
Update on the recent social media campaign could be found following this link