Storytelling festival at the UJ – 22-23 February 2013

University of Johannesburg

Joint Media Release

Monday, 04 February 2013

Storytelling festival at the University of Johannesburg (UJ)

22-23 February 2013


The Faculty of Education of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Gcinamasiko Arts and Heritage Trust will host a Storytelling Festival at the UJ Soweto Campus. This event themed ‘Love in your language’ aims to encourage reading and an appreciation of literature for learners in both primary and high school. It also presents South African youth with a platform to share their talents related to storytelling, song and dance, poetry/coral verse recital and stage production.

Included in the programme is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education, UJ, Professor Sarah Gravett and the Director of the Gcinamasiko Arts and Heritage Trust, Dr Gcina Mhlophe who will read stories to the audience using a variety of South African languages.

According to Prof Gravett, reading and storytelling lays the foundation for all further cognitive development in young children. “Reading and storytelling are very important ways of activating and initiating the development of more complex thinking and linguistic literacy, which can prove crucial to the years of schooling,” she says. “Reading and storytelling are used as tools to stimulate language development the better, since we never exist without language; we use it all the time.”

Dr Gcina Mhlophe says that the Nozincwadi Stotytelling and Book Celebration Festival has been running in Durban since 2008. “It has grown bigger every year reaching a wider audience annually. Both schools and the general public have requested that we keep them informed of all our activities. One of my greatest joys at these festivals is to witness young talent shining on our stages! And to see the ancient art of storytelling taking its rightful place in the hearts and minds of South Africans, young and old! This year we are honouring our mother tongues with great pride. Sign languages, brail and other forms of communication are to be celebrated.”

The Storytelling Festival also forms part of the Faculty of Education’s reading programme, a programme that helps parents with reading strategies at home. “The question should not be whether I should be reading to my child, but what I should be reading and how I can use the reading experience to teach my child something about society,” says Gravett.

“Selected stories can be used to teach a child something about society and the world. By exposing the child to the right story, one is able to refer to the events and essential facets of narrative to teach them something about the world. For instance, a story that deals with friendship can be used to teach values and ideas accompany bonds of friendship.”

She concludes: “Reading and storytelling can assist with memory retention, deepen thinking skills by stretching the imagination and encourage creative problem solving. Visualisation skills are expanded because reading and listening to stories allows one to form pictures in the mind. Most importantly, it presents an opportunity for children and adults to develop rich language abilities filled with new vocabulary and expressions.”

The audience can also look forward to performances by UJ students and learners from nearby schools. Some of these performances include song and dance, arts and crafts for children and puppet shows,

The Storytelling Festival is open to all, however due to limited space interested parties are requested to register and obtain an official ticket before 12 February 2013. For additional information and registration, please contact Gadija Petker on or 011 559 5101.



Note to the journalist/news editor/producer

For more information on the Storytelling Festival, contact UJ’s Gadija Petker on +27 11 559 5101 or mobile 082 974 1171.

Professor Sarah Gravett, Executive Dean of Education, UJ and Dr Gcina Mhlophe, Executive Director of GCINAMASIKO are available for interviews on request. Prof Gravett can be contacted on +27 11 559 5234 or mobile 082 808 5426, and Dr Mhlophe.can be contacted on + 31 467 2131 or mobile 082 662 7368.


Issued by: Herman Esterhuizen

Coordinator: Media Relations

Division of Institutional Advancement

University of Johannesburg

Tel: +27 11 559-6653

Cell: +27 72 129 0777