|Intro||women’s rights activist and playwright|
21 January 1981, London
|Politics||People’s Progressive Party|
Hannah Augusta Darling Jawara, née Mahoney (May 1924 – 21 January 1981), was a Gambian nurse, playwright and activist for women’s rights. She was the first wife of Dawda Jawara.
Augusta Mahoney was born to a prominent Christian Aku Creole family. She was the daughter of Sir John Mahoney, the first Speaker of the Legislative Council of the Gambia, and his wife Hannah. Augusta’s sister was Louise N’Jie.
She studied at Mohammedan High School, where she first met her future husband, (future president) Dawda Jawara, before training in nursing in Edinburgh, Scotland. In February 1955 she married Jawara. Their first child was born in Edinburgh, where her husband had returned to study. In 1960 she stood for election to the House of Representatives in the 1960 elections, contesting Soldier Town in Bathurst unsuccessfully for her husband’s party, the PPP. She thereby became the first woman candidate to stand in a Gambian national election. In 1962 she established the Women’s Contemporary Society.
Jawara’s play The African King was produced at the Negro Arts Festival in Dakar in 1966. In 1967 she and Dawda Jawara divorced, and he reconverted to Islam. In 1968 Mahoney published Rebellion – “perhaps the first avowedly feminist, pro-girl child book in The Gambia’s literary history and tradition”. Published under a pseudonym, Rebellion was a play about Nyasta, a teenage girl in a rural village who struggles to continue her education rather than suffer an arranged marriage. At the time it was published she was President of the Gambia Women’s Federation, which she helped to establish from women’s associations in the Greater Banjul Area.
She died in London on 21 January 1981.
- The African King, produced 1966.
- Rebellion, 1968
- “The Gambia Women’s Federation”, Women Today, Vol. 6, No. 4 (1965), pp. 79–81.