South Africa 14.7.2016 05:00 am

Brave Nkosi put a face to HIV/Aids

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa picks up Ovayo Makhamba (18 months) with Gail Johnson, Founding Director of Nkosi's Haven at the launch the five-day countdown towards the AIDS2016 International Conference scheduled for Durban International Convention Centre. 12 July 2016, Nkosi’s Haven, Johannesburg. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa picks up Ovayo Makhamba (18 months) with Gail Johnson, Founding Director of Nkosi's Haven at the launch the five-day countdown towards the AIDS2016 International Conference scheduled for Durban International Convention Centre. 12 July 2016, Nkosi’s Haven, Johannesburg. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Deputy president says youngster’s activism remains a source of inspiration.

The world would be reminded of Nkosi Johnson at the International Aids Conference in Durban next week, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday. He was talking at Nkosi’s Haven, a shelter run by his mother, Gail Johnson, in Johannesburg, and mentioned the child activist who succumbed to the disease in 2001.

At the time of his death, Johnson was 12 and the longest-surviving child born with HIV in South Africa.

“As South Africa, we will share with the world the progress we have made in combating the Aids pandemic since 2000,” Ramaphosa said.

“We will share with them how Nkosi Johnson remains alive in the lives of the many children and mothers, whose lives are rekindled and transformed daily at this village.

“We will remind them that he remains a source of inspiration to his mother, Gail, and his extended family here and elsewhere.

“We will insist that the dream of an HIV-free generation remains possible in our lifetime if we all pull our resources together, act in unity and act now.”

Johnson became an international icon in 2000 when he delivered a speech to 10 000 delegates attending the 13th International Aids Conference held in Durban for the first time. It was televised worldwide.

“Hi, my name is Nkosi Johnson,” he told the world. “I am 11 years old and I have full-blown Aids. I was born HIV-positive…

“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.”

– yadhanaj@citizen.co.za

 

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