I first met Nokubonga Yawa in 2008, I was working at Community Media Trust, the company that produces the HIV/AIDS Educational show Siyayinqoba Beat it! Nokubonga was the part of the Support Group on the show, for me she was just an ordinary young girl living her life with such positivity. Today its World Aids Day, and I feel its a good day to share my moments with her interview….this is what she is all about
Tell us about Nokubonga…Who is she? Where is she from?
I was born 26 July 1987 in the Eastern Cape (Umtata), moved to Cape Town when I was 3 months old with my mother (Siziwe Violet Yawa). We then lived in the area called Crossroad, that’s where I spent my child hood. And then moved to Khayelitsha in 1996.
Briefly about my childhood, I grew up in a different way; my experience has not been the same as the one you would get from other people.As a child when you grow up you need that chance to connect with friends and enjoy being a child, but that was not the case for me.
I had to support my mother. I had to become an adult from the age of 7. My mother was one of those mothers who were not lucky enough to finish school and have a job to support the family.
She had to find a way to support me and my siblings, she tried a lot, she had no one by her side. No family, No friends, No boyfriend but herself alone.
Just from when she moved from the Eastern Cape till 2002, a lot happened!
I watched each and every step she took in life to make it work, she sometimes fell but one thing she never gave up.
There’s a part of Khayelitsha that carries my history, that history is a picture that can’t be erased in many peoples’ minds.
Today it’s like magic when they see me and my family.
How did u get infected with HIV?
“SEX” haaaaaaa, just kidding!!! I tested in 2003 when I was pregnant. In most cases or should I say most people, it’s never easy to tell who infected you with HIV as we cannot prove that.But I can say I’m lucky because I know what happened and who I was sleeping with.I was very disappointed to know that I’ve been infected with HIV. It felt like an embarrassment to my mother because I was very young, pregnant and now HIV positive, it was too much for me. It really felt like an end.
How long did it take you to come to terms with the fact that you are HIV Positive?
Just like everyone who gets their HIV test results, I didn’t know what to think; where to go, who to talk to etc. but at some point I had to think about the baby that I was carrying. It was then that I decided to find a way to tell my mother about my status but I can tell you, it’s not easy and I think that the most hard thing or part of living with HIV.
My mother was very supportive. I was then left with the question in my mind, how many more girls are going to take the direction I took? How do I help them to see the danger?
I then made a decision that for the sake of young woman in South Africa, for the sake of my daughter, I will live openly with my status and allow people to learn from my mistakes and be able to take right decisions about their lives.
What does World AIDS Day mean to you?
World AIDS Day is known as the day in which people must show support to people who are living with HIV and remember those who have died in the name of HIV/AIDS.
Yes! That is true, but today people know about HIV and it’s no longer seen as a death sentence.
To me it means remembering those who fought for their lives but died before getting ARV’s, Celebrate lives of those that are still alive and those who are working hard to make South Africa a better country. I’m talking about the Health workers, Health organisations, Activist fighting for better health system and the individuals who gave up everything and decided to educate our nation about HIV.
What do you feel you could have done differently in life? Any regrets?
Yes! I do have regrets. I think if I didn’t have the baby at a very young age, maybe I would have continued with school. If I didn’t date an older person because of his money, I could have maybe stayed negative.
I’ve known you for 3years now, to me you’ve always been so positive about life and all I see through you is beautiful woman my age that is just full of life. How do you keep smiling and getting through life?
Dudoo… I’ve been through a lot since I was young. Life was always dark for me, I never knew I would see the bright side of it.The challenges I’ve been through keep me going. The pain I felt for all these years would have been better physical than the emotional I had to deal with, and that is why I’m always smiling.
Do you feel enough is being said and done about HIV?
A lot has been said about HIV but it’s never enough. Not until we get the number ZERO of people getting infected. As much as we still have packed clinics and hospitals that means we still have work to do.
What I have discovered from spending time with you is that your life experiences have made you a strong individual that believes in equality, I’d even call you Sarafina at times *giggles*. I know you are also part of the Equal Education organisation. What is Equal Education all about?
Equal Education is a movement striving to improve the education system in South Africa. EE is a community based organisation led by young activist, its membership made of Parents, Teachers, Learners and Community members.
What is your role in the Equal Education organisation?
I’m a community organiser, this means working with community members, especially parents. I run workshops where we do educational activities with them trying to make them understand the issues around South African education as well their role as parents in education.
- What else are you involved in?
I am the face of “Siyayinqoba Beat It” an educational show about HIV/AIDS and issue that faces health system in South Africa.
- It’s the festive season, a lot happens during this period. What is your message to the youth out there during this festive season?
In South Africa we have more than 5 million people living with HIV, all these people live with us in our families, communities and they have rights to have fun and party with whoever they want. This shows that the level of stigma has gone down in this country.
It worries me to see the numbers of people getting infected; this shows that both Negative and Positive are not responsible for their lives.
Let’s all have fun but be responsible at the same time.
PROTECT YOUR SELF, PROTECT OTHERS
What has 2011 taught you?
Life is full of surprises so be ready for anything at any time, never run away from your challenge because it’s given to you for a reason.
What can we expect from you in 2012?
Nothing new me in action all the way……….Struggle never ends!!!!!
Aah we wish Noks all the best for the future….