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    Posted December 6, 2013 by
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Nelson Mandela: Your memories

    Innocent2001 and 14 other iReporters contributed to Open Story: Remembering Nelson Mandela

    My Obsession with Mandela since age seven


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Innocent Ndagijimana Justice dreamed of meeting Nelson Mandela all his life. That meeting never took place, but Justice says he was influenced by Mandela's work nonetheless. Getting a tattoo of the former South African president 'was my way of being connected with him and the cause of freedom and justice, which he championed,' the iReporter said. He says he was sadden to hear about Mandela's death. 'Since I was a little child, I experienced injustice in my country. I have always seen myself as a voice for the voiceless. I found inspiration in Mandela’s life.'
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    I learned about Nelson Mandela and South Africa's apartheid when I was seven years old in 1982. I am from Rwanda, but I live in the United States.

    Back in Rwanda our teachers used to ask us to pray for Nelson Mandela and people of S.A who endured apartheid. I learned about the evil of injustice such as apartheid at my tender age.

    I fell in love with Mandela and his cause ever since. I lived in South Africa between 2001 to 2005, but I did not get chance to meet him in personal except when he came to celebrate 10 years of freedom in 2004. I was in the crowds, but I did not reach Mandela.

    When I came in the USA in April 2005, I decided to engrave Nelson Mandela's portrait on my right shoulder. I lived with his portrait, but I revealed it last night after I learned of his passing.

    I wish I could be at his memorial service even though I am not worthy to be there. Nelson Mandela has become an ideal to me, and many people who experienced injustice in their countries.

    When I became an American citizen, my family adopted Justice as the last name for our family and I got this inspiration from Mandela who gave up his freedom as he was fighting for freedom and justice of his people.

    I have written a poem that is made of Nelson Mandela's name and I will be more than happy to share that. Thank you so much.

    Here is the poem I wrote for Mandela back in August 2006

    Never give up

    Never give up your freedom dream
    Evaluate your cause then go for it
    Let your passion be your first priority
    So that you will never loose your hope
    Open your mouth and speak out for unity
    Never be scared of the extremists.

    Make justice and equality your right hand
    Always think about the voiceless ones
    Never retaliate on your persecutors
    Don’t use the evil way to abolish evil policies
    Evil will be defeated by your kindness
    Let the freedom ring everywhere in your country
    Again never give up until the freedom is achieved.

    By Innocent Ndagijimana Justice
    August 2006

    Reverend Innocent Justice, M.Div. (Duke University).
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