OBITUARY: Remembering Jacobus Witbooi

jacobusJacobus Witbooi was a human rights activist from Namibia who at the time of his passing last week worked at the Pan African International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.  The passionate LGBT activist died after being hospitalized for malaria.

One of his close associates described Jacobus as a hardworking person who  would stop at nothing to see the rights of LGBT Africans respected.

“What don't I remember of such a beautiful person? I remember Jacobus as if it was just yesterday that we saw each other. Just thinking about him brings so much joy and so much sadness in me. But Jacobus was like sister, brother, friend and a close family. He was not a big person but had a huge heart. He was a lion with a gentle heart. He was a true human rights fighter and a passionate LGBTI activist. He never backed down from what he believed in. He was a beautiful friend that genuinely cared for others around him. It feel like I had known him forever.

I first met Jacobus at TRP the rainbow project and we had remained close ever since. We then worked together as activists and became very close friends till I moved to Sweden then we only saw each other when I went to visit but we were in contact on facebook. Jacobus was a real angel for me; it's still not real and it's hard for me to believe he is gone. Every time I think of him I just see his smiling face, he had that ‘Jacobus’ smile. He brought so much warmth, love and positive energy. And he was so bright I can’t even find the right words to explain it. We used to hang out in Tura a township and he was the only gay guy amidst transpersons and lesbians- we ended up giving him the nickname Elise as an inside joke. It is hard to describe the kind of love we had for Jacobus. It makes me very emotional to even think of him not being here today,” Silva, a close friend to the deceased told Kuchu Times.

In an earlier interview, Jacobus described himself as an ‘innate activist’ with a passion for human rights

He previously worked with UNAIDS, UNICEF and UNFPA in Namibia to coordinate the involvement of young people in his countries national response to HIV, he played a formidable role in ensuring that young people, including young LGBT youth were involved in developing various national response strategies. He also worked for numerous civil society organizations involved in advancing human and people rights, including LGBT rights, the rights of people living with HIV and women’s and girls’ rights. Before joining ILGA, Jacobus worked with Gender Links Namibia on a project that works mainstream LGBT issues in the work plans of local authority councils in Namibia.

The young and courageous activist will be greatly missed by family, friends, associates and all those who knew him. He will be remembered for his positive outlook on life,  friendliness and the desire to see an inclusive and tolerant world become a reality.

Jacobus was remembered at the opening ceremony of the ILGA World Conference that commenced this week In Bangkok.



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