A monumental loss for our community

Rest in Peace and Power

Prudence Nobantu Mabele

21 July 1971 – 10 July 2017

You always knew the moment when Nobantu entered the room. Her power, her joy, her impeccable style, her smile lit it up.

With broken hearts, we share that that light left the earth yesterday. But it will continue to shine.

Nobantu was one of the first African women to publicly share her HIV status in South Africa in 1992. At the time, she was confronting head on the immense shame and stigma that was fueling a raging epidemic that would go on to kill 15 million people on the African Continent.

Thousand Currents first partnered with Positive Women’s Network (PWN), the organization which she founded and of which she was the executive director, in 2005. PWN’s core program makes it possible for women living with or impacted HIV/AIDS to come together in a safe space to share their experiences and find solutions to the issues they face via a support group model. PWN has impacted the lives of over 35,000 women and Nobantu has inspired many thousands more.



Nobantu was the founding member of many more organizations addressing HIV, gender-based violence, and LGBTQ rights in South Africa and the rest of the African Continent, including Treatment Action Campaign, the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Positive Art, the Pan African Positive Women’s Network, and the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa. At the time of her death, she was also serving as deputy chair of the Civil Society Forum of the South African National AIDS Council.

She was an Olympic torch carrier, a sangoma (traditional healer), a jazz lover. But most importantly, she was our friend.

As a Thousand Currents partner for the past 12 years, Nobantu taught us what it meant to build partnerships based on solidarity. She schooled us. She made us laugh. She made us listen. She invited us to look at ourselves. She taught us to never compromise on human rights. She insisted on celebration every time justice prevailed.

Nobantu (2nd from left in front row) helping Thousand Currents usher in its new name at our Rebirth Party in San Francisco in June 2016.

  Nobantu’s legacy cannot be captured by the organizations she helped start, the policies she changed, or the awards she was given. Nobantu will most be remembered by all those she encouraged to be their authentic selves – by all the South Africans, Africans, and people around the world who became activists themselves when they saw what was possible through the out and proud life she lived.

And that is why Nobantu’s light can never be extinguished.
Forever, she will be luminous.

If you would like to share remembrances or condolences, feel free to send them to [email protected] and we will share them with Positive Women’s Network in due course.