Tamar Golan (December 18, 1933 – March 30, 2011) was an Israeli journalist and diplomat, best known for promoting ties between Israel and Africa, and for increasing awareness of African cultures in Israel.
As a young girl in Haifa, Tamar was active in the “Hashomer Hatzair” youth movement. She served in the “Nahal” brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces, and joined a group of soldiers who were sent to volunteer in Kibbutz Lahav, north of Beersheba. In 1961, she travelled to Africa for the first time with her husband, the late Avihu Golan, as part of an Israeli delegation of educators to Ethiopia.
Tamar returned to Kibbutz Lahav after her husband’s death in Ethiopia. Following the loss of Avihu, Tamar wore only white, an African custom symbolic of grief. In the late 60’s, Tamar was accepted to Columbia University, New York, where she completed her doctoral studies in International Law and Government with a focus on Africa. She then worked as a journalist for several Israeli media outlets, the British “Observer” and the BBC African news section. Most of her journalistic work was focused on reporting from African and Arab countries for the Israeli newspaper “Maariv.”
During the 70’s Tamar worked as a Maariv reporter in Paris, where her apartment was a meeting point for African leaders, Israeli and Arab politicians, artists and journalists, all inspired by her charismatic personality. Israeli officials often sought Tamar’s assistance in their relationships with African leaders, especially following the Six Day War, when many African countries cut off diplomatic relations with Israel.
In 1994, Tamar was appointed as the first Israeli ambassador to Angola. She served there from 1995 until 2002. Later on, she returned to Angola, upon the request of the country’s president, José Eduardo dos Santos, in order to help establish a UN taskforce for the removal of landmines.
Upon her return to Israel, Tamar settled in Kibbutz Lahav and lived there for the rest of her life with her close friends. Tamar, together with Dr. Yunes Abu Rabiya and Mr. Dodik Shoshani, and with the Support of Baron Eric De Rothschild created the “Coexistence Fund” to help Bedouin youth obtain a higher education degree. Tamar also became involved at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and in 2006 initiated a student volunteer program in Africa, which has run every year since. In 2009, she established the Africa Centre at Ben-Gurion University, which is now named in her memory and continues to develop and promote African Studies and activism on campus and in the community.
Tamar was a dedicated Africanist who believed, above all, in the pursuit of human rights for all. Tamar believed in teaching from a personal point of view. She shared with students her own unique experiences, in particular her encounters with influential African leaders. For Tamar, the mandate of the Africa Centre extended beyond academic studies. She strove to have her students experience Africa in all its diversity and complexity, respecting its many cultures and peoples, developing a sensitivity for the difficulties facing Africa, and encouraging a personal commitment on the part of the students to actively work on problem-solving in Africa.
Dr. Tamar Golan passed away at the age of 77 in Haifa, her hometown.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. Nelson Mandela
“There is a raw and elemental energy in Africa that does not seem to exist anywhere else in the world. It may have something to do with the fact that Africa is the birthplace of all humanity. For all humans, to go to Africa is to go home.” Quote from the book LIGHTENING BIRD by Lyall Watson
Articles on Tamar Golan
The Woman in White:
Tamar Golan, Israel’s Queen of Africa, Dies at 76:
Tamar Golan, diplomat and Africa expert, to be buried today: http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Tamar-Golan-diplomat-and-Africa-expert-to-be-buried-today
Photos of Tamar Golan