Xolani Johnson was born on 4 February 1989 with HIV and
was the longest surviving child born with the virus in
the country. His mother has since died of Aids, and he
was adopted when he was two by a foster mother, Gail
In the absence of money for drugs, Nkosi had survived on a healthy diet, vitamin supplements and minimising the stress of being HIV positive. Ms Johnson attempted to give him a purpose by turning him into a spokesman for Aids awareness at a time when the country's infected population was silenced by the suffocating stigma of fear and prejudice. But for Nkosi, who had seen his real mother die of Aids, the frightening inevitability of his own impending death was never far away.
Speaking before his death Ms Johnson said: "We chatted about death... He had strong feelings about letting me down," she said.
"I told him I would miss him and no one could take his place."
Nkosi will be particularly remembered for a speech he made at the World Aids Conference in Durban in July 2000. He told delegates:
He also scolded South African President Thabo Mbeki on his government's failure to provide drugs, which caused the miffed president to leave during the speech. He later told the BBC:
In December 2000 Nkosi had a relapse and remained critical until his death. On 1 June 2001 a Johnson family spokesman said that Nkosi died at 0540 local time (0340 GMT) after a desperate final battle against the disease. Ms Johnson said:
Former South African president Nelson Mandela said he was an example for the whole world to follow. Mr Mandela told reporters:
Copyright © zar.co.za January 2007