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Thembi’s AIDS Diary

We first met Thembi when she was 19 and living in one of the largest townships in South Africa. We were struck by her candor, sense of humor and her courage. She was willing to speak out about having AIDS at a time when few South Africans were willing to say, “I have AIDS.” Thembi carried a tape recorder from 2004 to 2005 to document her life. In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, we bring you Thembi’s original story. And we return to South Africa more than a decade later to meet Thembi’s daughter, Onwabo, now a teenager herself.

 

In 2006, Thembi traveled to the United States to present her story. In March 2007, Thembi’s AIDS Diary was heard in South Africa for the first time – in English, Xhosa and Zulu. Thembi toured South Africa, presenting her story at high schools, universities, community clinics, Constitution Hill, and Parliament. There, she stood up and told the country’s leaders to “Accept that AIDS is here.”

Thembi Ngubane died in 2009. 

Thembi and Onwabo
Thembi Ngubane
Thembi Ngubane
Thembi with her boyfriend Melikhaya and their daughter Onwabo

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