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Raouf Mama Named CSU Professor

Published on October 26, 2020

Raouf Mama Named CSU Professor

Raouf Mama, professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, was named a CSU Professor by the Board of Regents of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) System at its Oct. 15 meeting. Mama joins History Professor Anna Kirchmann and French Studies Professor Michele Bacholle as Eastern’s three CSU Professors.

“This latest recognition is well deserved and reaffirms Dr. Mama's talents and scholarship,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez.  “We are very proud of him for being named a CSU Professor, which is the highest recognition faculty in our state university system can achieve.  Dr. Mama has inspired Eastern students for decades with his ability to bring literature alive.  He is also known throughout the world for his enchanting storytelling and his commitment to preserving the folklife of his native Benin.”

Mama is recognized for sharing folktales in the Fon, Yoruba, French, and English languages of Benin in western Africa. His first book of stories, “Why Goats Smell Bad,” published in 1998, won a “Storytelling World Award” for the story “How Hare Drank Boiling Water and Married the Beautiful Princess.” 

 Raouf MamaIn 2001, Mama’s second collection of folktales, “The Barefoot Book of Tropical Tales,” was recognized by The Bank Street School of Education as one of the Best 10 Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year.   

In 2005, Mama won the Distinguished Immigrant Award in the United States. In 2008, his collection of Benin folktales, “Why Monkeys Live in Trees,” won the National Multicultural Children’s Book Award. In 2009, Mama was honored by his native country with Le Trophee Kwabo (The Kwabo Trophy) in recognition of a teaching, scholarly and creative record of distinguished merit. 

Mama was awarded the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Maclands Fellowship in 2011, a fellowship sponsored by the European Union.  In 2012, he won Eastern Connecticut State University’s Distinguished Professor of the Year Award.  He is the best-selling author of “Pourquoi Le Bouc Sent Mauvais,” the French version of his first collection of folktales, “Why Goats Smell Bad.”  “Pourquoi Le Bouc Sent Mauvais” is required reading in Benin’s secondary schools. 

In 2019, Mama was awarded the Trophy of Merit by the Benin National Teachers of English Association. This past summer, Mama published three new books — “Tropical Tales” with new illustrations; “Contes Tropicaux,” the French version of “Tropical Tales”; and “La Jarre Troue,” a retelling of another classic Benin story.

Written by Dwight Bachman