Ahead of the Aids conference next week in Durban, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has honoured Aids activist Nkosi Johnson.
Nkosi was a South African child with HIV/AIDS, who died at the age of 12. He was known for his powerful impact on public perceptions of the pandemic and its effects.
Ramaphosa described Nkosi as a brave young man who fought for an Aids-free generation.
Addressing infected mothers and children living at Nkosi’s Haven in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning, the deputy president said government has made recommendable efforts in saving lives.
He said: “We heeded the call and the message that was made by Nkosi Johnson. Whereas in the year 2000 we were all over the place and not providing the care and love to people who were suffering. 3.4 million people today are alive.
Ramaphosa also remembered Johnson’s bravery on stage at the Aids conference in 2000. He lamented that the virus took away such a promising young man at a very tender age.
Life And Times Of Nkosi Johnson
Nkosi Johnson was born on 4th February 1989 and he died on 1 June 2001. He was the longest-surviving HIV-positive born child at the time of his death. He was HIV positive from birth.
The young Nkosi never knew his father, he lost his mother the same year he started school. He first came to public attention in 1997, when a primary school in the Johannesburg suburb of Melville refused him admission because of his HIV status.
Remarkably, Nkosi was the keynote speaker at the 13th International AIDS Conference. At the conference, he urged people living with HIV/AIDS to seek equal treatment.
His words ended thus:
“Care for us and accept us — we are all human beings. We are normal. We have hands. We have feet. We can walk, we can talk, we have needs just like everyone else — don’t be afraid of us — we are all the same!
Nkosi was later adopted by Gail Johnson, a Johannesburg Public Relations practitioner. Prior to his death, he founded a refuge for HIV positive mothers and their children, Nkosi’s Haven, in Johannesburg, together with his foster-mother.