Nkosi Johnson

Nkosi Johnson was a South African hero who spoke out about the discrimination he faced for being HIV positive and his speech inspired the world!


Global (04 February 2020) – Xolani Nkosi was born HIV-positive in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 4th February 1989. He never knew his father and his birth mother, Nonhlanhla Daphne Nkosi, battled the disease alongside Xolani until she could no longer care for him on her own.

He was legally adopted by Gail Johnson. Nkosi first came to the public’s attention in 1997, when a primary school refused to accept him as a pupil because of his HIV-positive status. Nkosi Johnson and Gail Johnson took on the system by fighting for the rights of people living with HIV.

Nkosi’s mother passed away the very same year he started school. At age 11, Nkosi was fighting full-blown AIDS; he was invited to be the keynote speaker of the International AIDS Conference, where he encouraged people with HIV to be open about the disease and to seek equal treatment. Nkosi finished his speech with these words.

“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.”

He changed the way people saw the virus in South Africa and the world. He died a year later, leaving behind a legacy that forever changed the way we view HIV/Aids in South Africa and globally.

To this day, Gail runs the Nkosi Haven in honour of her son. The haven cares for mothers with HIV and helps care for their children through several programmes. You can find out more about the haven via their website here.

Nkosi was honoured with International Children’s Peace Prize in 2005. Gail attended the ceremony to accept the prize on behalf of her late-son. The Peace Prize was created in honour of Nkosi and is a “Nkosi” statuette. Each year, his likeness is given to a young winner celebrated for promoting children’s rights.

He will never be forgotten.

Sources: Google / Wikipedia / Nkosi’s Haven
Don’t ever miss the Good Things. Download the Good Things Guy App now on Apple or Google
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens or share your good news with us by clicking here
Click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast, with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to, and he truly believes that there’s good news all around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:
Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll hopefully leave you feeling a little more proudly South African. 

Facebook Comments

About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *