Bonita Mabo

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Bonita Mabo

Born
Bonita Neehow[1]

c. 1943
Died26 November 2018 (aged 75)
Brisbane, Queensland
Spouse(s)
Eddie Mabo
(m. 1959; died 1992)

Ernestine Bonita Mabo (formerly Neehow) AO (c. 1943 – 26 November 2018), was an Australian educator[2] and activist for Aboriginal Australians, Torres Strait Islanders, and Australian South Sea Islanders.[3][4][5] She was the widow of Eddie Mabo.[3]

Early life[edit]

Bonita Mabo was born in Halifax, Queensland, one of 10 children. She was an Australian South Sea Islander of Ni-Vanuatu descent whose ancestors were "blackbirded" to work in the sugar cane industry in Queensland.[2] Her grandfather was "blackbirded" from Tanna in what is now Vanuatu.[6]

In 1973, Eddie and Bonita Mabo established the Black Community School in Townsville, where children could learn their own culture rather than white culture.[7] Bonita worked in the school as a teacher's aide and oversaw day-to-day operations.[8]

Media portrayals[edit]

In the 2012 television film Mabo, Deborah Mailman played the role of Bonita Mabo, opposite Jimi Bani who played her husband Eddie Mabo[9]

Honours[edit]

On 31 May 2018, a star was named in her honour at the Sydney Observatory, during the visit of the N.S.W. Judicial Commission's Ngara Yura Program to the Observatory. Her daughter Ms Gail Mabo was present, since Bonita was ill. Another star, Koiki, had been named in memory of Eddie Koiki Mabo in 2015 on the 23rd anniversary of the Mabo decision.

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia on Australia Day 2013.[10][11]

On 17 November 2018, James Cook University conferred upon Bonita Mabo an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in recognition of her outstanding contribution to social justice and human rights at a private ceremony held in Brisbane.[12][8]

Death[edit]

Bonita Mabo died in Brisbane on 26 November 2018, aged 75.[13]

A statement by the Australian South Sea Islander Alliance of which Bonita Mabo was honorary patron described her as someone who would be greatly missed, saying:[12]

"Aunty Bonita's contribution to social justice and human rights for First Nations People and the Australian South Sea Islander recognition was monumental and relentless."

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies - Eddie Koiki Mabo". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Archived from the original on 22 February 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b Fraser, Andrew (26 January 2013). "Bonita Mabo's battle as vital as Eddie's". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b "It's time, says Bonita Mabo". Sydney Morning Herald. 1 August 2004. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  4. ^ Negus, George (6 August 2003). "Bonita Mabo Interview". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  5. ^ MacLean, Danielle. "For Who I Am-Bonita Mabo". Screen Australia. Archived from the original on 29 June 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  6. ^ Stephens, Tony (31 May 2002). "10 years after Mabo, Eddie's spirit dances on". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Black Community School". Screen Australia Digital Learning. Archived from the original on 10 April 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Bonita Mabo honoured by JCU". James Cook University. 22 November 2018. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Bonita Mabo honoured by Mailman at Logies award". National Indigenous Times. 2012. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  10. ^ "MABO, Ernestine Bonita - Officer of the Order of Australia - 26 January 2013". It's an Honour. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Bonita Mabo awarded AO". ABC News (Australia). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 January 2013. Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  12. ^ a b Higgins, Isabella (26 November 2018). "Bonita Mabo, prominent Indigenous rights activist, dies days after receiving accolade". ABC News. Archived from the original on 26 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Bonita Mabo dies days after human rights accolade". ABC News. 26 November 2018. Archived from the original on 26 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.