South Africans Keep Mandela’s Memory Alive with Tattoos

Former South African President Nelson Mandela reacts at the Mandela foundation, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday June 2, 2009, during a meeting with a group of American and South African students as part of a series of activities leading to Mandela Day on July 18th. (AP Photo/Pool-Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool)
Former South African President Nelson Mandela reacts at the Mandela foundation,  in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday June 2, 2009, during a meeting with a group of American and South African students  as part of a series of activities leading to  Mandela Day on July 18th. (AP Photo/Pool-Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool)
Former South African President Nelson Mandela reacts at the Mandela foundation, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday June 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Pool-Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool)

(Daily Mail) – Mpumelelo Masinga takes a deep drag from his cigarette, his hand trembling with apprehension.

Masinga is preparing to spend three hours at Black and White Tattoo Studio in Johannesburg getting Nelson Mandela’s face tattooed on the centre of his back.

“I’m very, very nervous,” he explains with a sheepish smile. “It’s a big piece and I’m starting on a new canvas, my back.”

A year ago when Mandela died, Masinga decided he would pay tribute by getting a tattoo of the anti-apartheid hero.

“It’s art and a memory that stays with me forever,” said the sinewy 27-year-old, who wore Nike trainers and a black beanie embroidered with the word “DOPE” in capital letters. “One day I’ll explain it to my kids.”

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