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Winstone Zulu Lives through his Work

As has been widely reported, we lost Winstone Zulu, a tireless advocate for TB/HIV (see more info at the TB Alliance and ACTION). I was lucky to have been able to work with Winstone over the years – his greeting was always a hearty: “So when are you coming to Zambia?” I had to laugh because he always seemed to be everywhere all at once, on a tireless global journey to promote TB/HIV awareness.

But he was tired – often exhausted from battling his illness, adverse reactions to therapy, and of course his punishing schedule. And yet, to know him was to marvel at his indomitable spirit, which rarely seemed to miss an opportunity to do some good in the world.

Chief among Winstone’s gifts was the ability to speak with passion about his subject, finding the precise balance between hard facts, personal history, and an inspiring call to action. In 2003, we collaborated on a video to raise awareness about TB/HIV co-infection. The title, “Winstone Zulu is Alive” came from a conversation in which Winstone explained that since the average life expectancy in Zambia was 40 (his figure), he was already living on borrowed time and it was important to remind people that he was still around.

Now that Winstone has passed, the title seems all the more poignant: if you listen to his profoundly moving voice, you realize that his spirit remains very much with us.

John-Michael Maas