When AIDS activist Winstone Zulu died this month, the world lost a man who wasn't afraid to display a clear, hot anger about the injustice AIDS has exacted on his fellow Africans.
Zulu, the first Zambian to publicly announce his HIV status, was also a member of the Housing Works family. This spring, while visiting the East Coast, he became violently ill and spent a month living at the Keith D. Cylar House, trying to recuperate.
"He struck me as an incredibly humble person. He turned his experiences with AIDS and TB into opportunities to educate and to fight for change," said Charles King, Housing Works' president and CEO. "For an AIDS activist, he was surprisingly understated and patient, and unfailingly gracious."
Born in 1964, Zulu survived a polio attack at age three; was diagnosed with HIV in 1990; and contracted TB in 1997. He made history in the early '90s when he appeared on Good Morning, Zambia, the nation's most-watched TV program, and announced he had the virus.
At the time, not a single person in southern Africa was living openly with HIV.
"I had this anger that this disease was killing so many people and no one was speaking or even showing the face of this disease," he told journalist Stephanie Nolan, author of the book 28 Stories of AIDS. "I decided, 'Look, this thing is going to kill me but I might as well use it to help people.'"
During several decades of activism, Zulu faced both violence and intolerance. Despite this, he met with heads of state and grassroots activists, spoke at numerous international conferences and became a champion for increasing financial resources to combat HIV and TB. In her book, Nolan described him as a powerful man with "the honeyed voice of a late-night DJ."
Join the Housing Works family to celebrate Zulu's enduring legacy.
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011
Keith D. Cylar House
743-749 East 9th St.
New York, NY 10009