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Storyteller, Author and Professor Raouf Mama Lectures at Eastern

Published on October 30, 2015

Storyteller, Author and Professor Raouf Mama Lectures at Eastern

On Oct. 28, storyteller and Eastern Connecticut State University English professor Raouf Mama spoke to students about his recently published memoir, “Fortune’s Favorite Child.”

Mama opened his lecture by reading an excerpt from his memoir and talking about his upbringing. For the first 20 years of his life, he lived a normal existence in Benin, West Africa. It wasn’t until he became ill, suffering from constant headaches and an inability to sleep, that he was finally able to discover his identity. Unable to deal with his illness, he traveled to a healer who performed a ritual that Mama could only describe as a miracle. “When the ritual was finished, the healer told us that I suffered not from a sickness of the body but from a sickness of the spirit. ‘The boy’s spirit yearns for his real father, he continued’” Mama said.

Unbeknownst to Mama, the time surrounding his birth had been stressful and traumatic for his family, almost resulting in his death before he was a week old. Ultimately, his mother gave him up for adoption. The adoption prevented him from meeting his biological father until he was an adult, but Mama described the event as the most beautiful moment of his life. Although it was stressful for him, Mama has taken away many positives from the time before he met his father. “Those 20 years made me a better person because I’m more keenly aware of what it’s like to feel unwanted or unloved,” he explained.

“You can’t sleepwalk your way through life. You have to find something to be excited about, something to be passionate about. Most importantly, everyone should have a sense of excitement about life,” Mama said as he tried to convey to students that we are all “fortune’s favored children.” He also urged students to form lasting bonds and work together with each other, stating that it is only possible to achieve great things with the help of others. It is through collaboration and togetherness that we can continue to progress together. “We all have one chance to make a difference, to bring joy where there is sadness, and that chance is today,” Mama said. “Yesterday has already passed and tomorrow is out of reach; there will never be a better chance than today.”

Written by Ryan King

Categories: English