The funeral of Nkosi Johnson, the 12 year old South African boy who became a symbol in the fight against Aids, takes place tomorrow, (Saturday) in Central Johannesburg Methodist church. Nkosi, who was born with HIV and later developed Aids, died in his sleep last Friday. Tributes have been pouring in from around the world to his relatives and his foster mother, Gail Johnson, who cared for him after his mother died of Aids. Nkosi became the public face of the fight against Aids which is devastating much of Africa. One of 2.5 million Africans expected to die from Aids-related illnesses this year alone, he will be particularly remembered for a speech he made at the World Aids Conference in Durban last July. "You can't get Aids by hugging, kissing, holding hands. We are normal human beings, we can walk, we can talk," he told delegates. The church is full of candles and painted portraits and photographs of Nkosi in readiness for the service. Hymns will be sung in Xhosa and English. Jonas Khauore, a pastor who works with young children in Soweto, said: "I believe that God has used Nkosi to make people aware of the Aids epidemic. Through his talks and boldness he could influence the decision makers." Former South African president Nelson Mandela told reporters: "It's a great pity that this young man has departed. He was exemplary in showing how one should handle a disaster of this nature." "He was very bold about it and he touched many hearts," he said.
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