Call for Papers: Unisa Conference on Children and Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage

Announcement and Call for papers

Organisors: Department of Information Science, University of South Africa

When: 8-9 September 2016 

Where: Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa (venue will be announced)

Theme: Creating awareness of cultural and natural heritage with young people

Heritage gives us a sense of identity, defines who we are, and shows that we are part of something that is bigger than we are, and something in which we can take pride. Our natural heritage, that is all of nature that surrounds us, is something we have received as a birthright but that we will also pass on to others.

Yet, in spite of the importance of heritage, both cultural and natural, our heritage is under threat. Climate change, urbanisation and growth, pollution and deliberate destruction of our cultural and natural heritage are taking its toll. In general, we are not taking good care of our heritage but the question can be asked whether this is not the result of a lack of understanding of its importance? Creating awareness of and interest in the importance of our heritage should begin with the younger generation.

By understanding, children will value it; by valuing it, children will take care of it; by caring for it, children will help people enjoying it; by enjoying it, people will take care of it (Unesco). People learn and are influenced by the place and the people around them. In a country like South Africa many people have learned from stories told to them. These stories carry information and ideas about life and living and shared customs, traditions and memories passed on from parents to children (South African History Online). At the end what is important is that tomorrow’s decision-makers should be encouraged and enabled to participate in the conservation of their heritage

This conference will deal with the role of information in creating awareness with children of heritage, both cultural and natural and information is seen in its widest possible context.

Subthemes will therefore include (and is definitely not restricted to) the following:

  • Storytelling
  • oral history
  • environmental education
  • indigenous knowledge
  • myths and folklore 
  • successful projects and programmes creating interest and awareness with young people


Submission of abstracts: 20 June 2016

Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 30 June 2016

Submission of full-text papers: 1 September 2016


Please note that that the submission of an abstract entails a commitment to attend and present the paper should the abstract be accepted.

For more information about the conference please contact Thomas van der Walt:


8th Annual Unisa Storytelling Festival

Preceding the Conference, the 8th Unisa Storytelling Festival, will take place in Nelspruit and the surrounding rural area on the border between South Africa and Swaziland. The focus this year, will be on SeSwati storytelling, with both storytellers from Mpumalanga and Swaziland.

During the Conference the storytellers will perform as part as the evening social programme.


More information for international visitors

Nelspruit, also called Mbombela, is the capital of the Mpumalanga province in northeastern South Africa. It is located on the Crocodile River, about 110 kilometres by road west of the Mozambique border and 330 kilometres east of Johannesburg. The city is seen as the gateway to Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park.

The Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport - located about 25km north east of the city – has scheduled flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Nelspruit is a major stopover point for tourists traveling to Kruger National Park and to Mozambique Lowveld Botanical Gardens

With its sub-tropical climate and abundant sunshine and lush covered hills and valleys it forms the ideal base to explore Mpumalanga from. In addition to the nearby Kruger National Park and several private and provincial game reserves and nature reserves, the National Lowveld Botanical Gardens just outside of the town boasts a rare collection of plant species and the first man-made rain forests.

Nelspruit is the trading centre for the surrounding fruit growing area of Mpumalanga. Fertile soils and subtropical climate provide perfect conditions for the production of citrus and tropical fruits, mainly mango, banana, avocado, macadamia and pecan nuts.

Nearby Sudwala caves, dinosaur park and cultural centre expose your senses to the primitive Africa. A short distance away above Nelspruit is the gold mining town of Kaapsehoop where the mist filled evenings and a herd of wild horses grazing in the town transport you into a world of yesterday.

Many beautiful nature and hiking trails are in the vicinity of Nelspruit and a 1-hour historical trail acquaints you with the architectural and cultural history of the town.