Young Boy Born With HIV Who Inspired Mandela

Nelson Mandela said Nkosi Johnson was an icon for bravely talking about disease in South Africa.
3:00 | 12/09/13

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Transcript for Young Boy Born With HIV Who Inspired Mandela
inspired the world. But you're about to meet the little boy who inspired nelson mandela. It was just more than a decade ago, the world first met little nkosi johnson, the south african boy born with hiv. He'd lost his mother to aids, and at a time when south africa was unwilling to talk about the disease, nkosi bravely stood before the world and did. We are normal. We are human beings. We can walk, we can talk. We have needs just like everyone else. We are all the same. Thank you. Reporter: That woman, giving the thumbs-up right there, is the woman who would adopt him, gail johnson. And the two of them together would start a shoe-string shelter for mothers with aids and their children. They called it nkosi's haven. We're full. This is a small house. It can't fit the other mothers who are hiv. They are dying. Reporter: It was a year after that the world lost little nkosi. But years later, we decided to travel back to south africa to check in on the mother that adopted him. That's the baby daycare center. Reporter: We found a sprawling village she built in honor of her son. Nelson mandela said your son was an icon. He was a little war record. Reporter: A war record. And this weekend, she said she remembers the time her son met mandela. Saying, I'll remember mandela for his care for kids. He put the children first, the country first. She's now looking out for others, like little thabiso, who we met. We will never forget what he told us about gail. Gail loves me so much. Reporter: She loves you so much? Yeah. Me, too. I love her so much. Reporter: You love her? Yes. Reporter: Thabiso doesn't have hiv. But his mother does. This feels like home? And while giving us a tour, we met his mother. There's my mother. Reporter: That's your mom? This is mom. Hi. When she arrived here, she was struggling to survive. Medication gail had provided brought her back. If it was not for her, i couldn't be here. And my children wouldn't be with me. Reporter: The whole time we were talking to his mom, gail was right there listening. And we asked her what she made of it. Well, I've got a hell of an extended family. Reporter: Her extended family, she said. Tonight, remembering the man who inspired all of them and the boy who inspired mandela. The work of nelson mandela and little nkosi continues in south africa.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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