News24, 29 October 2002, Now, Nkosi's family attack book, Jo-Ann Floris

Johannesburg - Just over a year ago Aids activist Nkosi Johnson (12) was buried amid controversy after his biological family insisted on arranging his funeral.

This week, Gail Johnson, his adoptive mother, could only shake her head in disbelief when the same family launched an attack on the publisher and writer of Nkosi's biography, Nkosi's Life Story.

"Nkosi's story is a beautiful book handled with sensitivity. The author has brought him back to life," said Johnson.

Ruth Khumalo, Nkosi's biological grandmother, is disgruntled because the biographers, The Life Story Project, did not get her permission to write the book.

Khumalo, who lives in Standerton, said in an interview with weekly newspaper City Press that the family felt their tragic loss was being trivialised by people who saw Nkosi's death as a way to make money.

She said Nkosi's name was being used illegally to make money and that her family had not been involved in any planning or financing of the book.

Refused to contribute to book

Sandy Tasman, director of The Life Story Project, said the book was written as an attempt to dispel controversy by telling only Nkosi's story.

"So much controversy has surrounded him that his own story has been totally lost. The book is not judgmental at all," she said.

She said Khumalo had been among the first people approached to contribute to the book, specifically about the life of Nkosi's biological mother, Nonhlanhla, who had died of Aids-related causes.

Khumalo refused the offer to contribute to the book, she said.

A list of acknowledgements at the front of the book names his biological family, friends and adoptive family, even Aids patients interviewed.

Seventy percent of book's sales will be donated to the Nkosi Johnson Foundation and the rest will be deposited in a trust account for his sister, Mbali Johnson (18).