Nkosi Johnson: The Child Campaigner Who Changed The Perception Of World Towards HIV/AIDS

No matter at what age you are, if you have that capability, then you can change the world. With the same level of energy, Nkosi Johnson influenced the perceptions of the pandemic before his death at the age of 12. He himself was born with HIV and AIDS and was a child campaigner for HIV/AIDS. The former South Africa native, Nkosi survived HIV for 12 years and was the longest-surviving child born with HIV.

Johnson had that power as he left the world leaving behind the questions on the law of South Africa. His campaign also provided a space for those who were affected by HIV. If we go back some years of South Africa, then we come to know that the children used to be banned from schools based on their health so that, other children could not get affected.

Nkosi’s constant dedication and repeated voices made the government aware to take some essential steps in order to decrease the HIV/AIDS rate in Africa. Let’s take a look at his life in detail. Stay tuned.

Childhood of Nkosi Johnson –  Parents

Nkosi Johnson was born as Xolani Nkosi on 4th February 1989 in South Africa. His father was Nonthlanthla Daphne Nkosi. Shortly after his birth, Nkosi was adopted by a Johannesburg Public Relations practitioner, Gail Johnson who also found Nkosi HIV positive since his birth. Nkosi was a legal child of Gail. Meanwhile, Nkosi’s mother was also affected by HIV who herself was unable to care for Nkosi.

The image of Nkosi Johnson
Nkosi Johnson was born HIV positive
Image Source: Getty Images

Nkosi always wanted to live like others, however, his disease never let him do so. It all started in 1997 when a primary school in the Johannesburg suburb didn’t accept Nkosi as a pupil, just because of his disease. Shortly after that, the incident surged at the highest political level. As per the constitution of South Africa, it forbids discrimination on the ground of medical status. As a result, the school changed its decision and gave Nkosi permission to enter the school.

Campaign On HIV/AIDS

After facing a lot of circumstances, Nkosi Johnson had finally made it to school. However, his weak health conditions made him unable to lead a fairly active life at school and at home. He had to go through daily medication and treatments. He knew the growing rate of HIV infected people in South Africa.

Late-Nkosi Johnson while delivering his speech at the 13th International AIDS Conference
Late-Nkosi Johnson while delivering his speech at the 13th International AIDS Conference
Image Source: Wikipedia

Nkosi then decided to encourage the affected ones to live an open life. Also, he told at the 13th International AIDS Conference to seek equal treatment in society. He had finished his speech with the words,

Care for us and accept us – we are all human beings. We are normal – We have hands and  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!

During the time, the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela referred to Nkosi as an “Icon of the struggle for life”. Till his death, he worked in HIV awareness campaigns and left the world after founding a refuge for HIV positive mother and their kids titled Nkosi’s Haven in Johannesburg.

After his death in 2001, he was honored with International Children’s Peace Prize where Nkosi’s legal father, Gail had represented him in 2005. After that, KidsRights Foundation donated $100,000 to the Nkosi’s Haven, an NGO in Johannesburg which supports the family impacted by HIV/AIDS. Although Nkosi is now far from the world, his blessings for the HIV positives are still in his NGO.

Death Due To HIV/AIDS

Born in the year 1989, Nkosi Johnson died at an early age of 12 on 1st June 2001. Instead of long medication and treatment, he left the world. After his death, social media got filled with headlines and several authorities also initiated to work on the HIV infected peoples.

Late-Nkosi Johnson under treatment
Nkosi Johnson died of HIV/AIDS at the age of 12 Image Source: Daily Express

The funeral ceremony of Nkosi took place in his hometown, Johannesburg and was buried at the Westpark Cemetery. As a matter of fact, his mother had died of HIV/AIDS in the same year Nkosi started school. Without any family to take care, Nkosi had made a big decision to live for others at such an early age. He left the world after changing the perception of people towards HIV/AIDS.

May his soul rest in peace!