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Historical information

Golan (literally bum, thug) is the pejorative term used by Ion Iliescu, the president of the National Salvation Front, to designate the protesters who had occupied the University Square in Bucharest starting 22 April 1990. The term was first used on 25 April 1990, when in a meeting of the Provisional Council of National Union they were called ”golani”, a term that was appropriated by the protesters and changed into a ”title of glory and recognition” [1]. At the level of public perception, Ion Iliescu’s act was part of the dehumanization and vilification of the political and civic opposition, as a first step in annihilating this action, which occurred during the mineriad of 13-15 June 1990. In any case, in this attempt to build a violent imaginary regarding the protesters, Ion Iliescu also launched the names ”hooligans”, ”legionaires”, ”foreign agents”, etc.

On May 4th 1990, the magazine 22 publishes on the front page an article entitled ”Long live the golani!”, by Eugen Ionesco, a writer of Romanian origin living in Paris, member of the French Academy [2]. It was the very first symbolic gesture whereby a famous intellectual supported the protesters’ cause. As a result, all protesters will take the name, and Cristi Pațurca will compose the anthem of the University Square,”The Golani’s Anthem”, to have an unparalleled success in the political and civic movements in the 1990s: Much better a ”golan”,/Than an activist,/ Much better dead, / Than a communist! [3]

Later, the entire University Square phenomenon will be also called Golania. An article of 17 May 1990 revealed this very gap between the political power and the public will: ”Sometimes the legal country does not overlap with the real country. […] Ceaușescu contested the street and its hooligans, but the street, beyond any plot preparing the coup-d’etat, overthrew him. Not engaging in a dialogue with the street, despising the golani gathered there means in fact contesting your own legality, annulling your own legal state. As the state is representative, as the street gives the pulse of the public. Sometimes better than an electoral meeting. Sometimes better than free elections”[4].

Bibliography

  1. Mihai Berindei, Ariadna Combes, Anne Planche, 13-15 iunie 1990. Realitatea unei puteri neocomuniste, Bucharest, Humanitas Publishing House, 2006, p. 17.
  2. Magazine 22, year I, no. 16, 4 May 1990, p. 1.
  3. The audio version of the Golani’s anthem is available at la https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eiQ4sLsC00[ 26 November 2018.
  4. Toma Roman, De veghe în Golania, in 22, year I, no. 18, 17 May 1990, p. 4.

 

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