Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bravo SWALA for organizing such a wonderful showpiece – SCECSAL 2016!

By Erick Nelson Haumba
Kampala, Uganda

If anything has to be discussed about SCECSAL 2016, it has to be my personal experience and feel of the just concluded conference in eZulwini, Swaziland, held from 25 to 29 April. Under the theme “Digital transformation and the changing role of libraries and information centre’s in the sustainable development of Africa”, the Sub-Saharan region and the African continent as a whole experienced one of the best library and information service (LIS) fraternity showpieces of all times.

Eric Nelson Haumba presenting a paper at SCECSAL 2016
The approach and focus during the conference days was broad, enriching and focused on the changing role of libraries in the sustainable development of our continent which was spot-on with our expectations. In the academic setting, it’s extremely hard to disagree that the quality of the papers and conference proceedings was tremendously high. You could not hear of any corridor talk expressing any sort of dissatisfaction. Thanks to the efforts of the editorial team and international review committee.

As an upcoming professional, my goal is to always attend a conference where I simply have to learn from. I always want to be a sponge and soak up as much information as I possibly can. And SCECSAL 2016 Conference offered me more than that. From the keynote speakers to the invited guests who opened the conference, a lot was leant from them.  After attending a few sessions, it was rock clear to me that I wasn’t going to disappoint myself. I could sometimes pick the sessions to attend either based on the topic or based on who was actually presenting. This gave me an opportunity to hang back after the session was over and have a conversation with the presenters and fellow attendees who were really smart people.

It was an interesting moment to meet with the continent’s best, the stalwarts and peers from the profession. That was my time to take advantage of their knowledge.  I took notes and soaked it all in. About the culture of the people, it’s another matter that needs to be mentioned. From the hosts to all the countries represented, it was amazing to witness the cultural diversities at the cultural dinner. The warmth and hospitality of the people of Swaziland was beyond imagination. The performances were superlative, from the delegates as well as the invited performers. I could hardly see any member of the SWALA team wearing out. Even after the tiresome seven days, John Paul Anbu and his team were looking fresh, robust and full of smiles. I commend you for that.

The best part of attending conferences is establishing friendships and connections with other
Traditional dancers at the Cultural Evening
conference attendees – many of them our fellow peers from across the world. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn from experts at the conference, I also made connections with them and synergized with other conference delegates. The conference presented numerous opportunities to mingle with conference speakers, panelists, delegates and corporate sponsors. I could feel it as many of them were more than happy to stay connected with us during and after the conference.

As you may have noted, there are many advantages to attending conferences but my experience at SCECSAL 2016 only solidifies for me that attending conferences can make you a better person from either the knowledge you learn, the connections you make, or all of the above! To all the delegates, just take a minute to commend SWALA and LOC for the immaculate work by commenting on this blog.

From me, Bravo SWALA for organizing such a wonderful showpiece! Long Live SCECSAL. We welcome you to Uganda in 2018.

For God and My Country


  1. Thank you Eric. Indeed the Swazi team did a great job. We are looking forward to SCECSAL_UGANDA_2018. All the best

  2. Halo Eric! I trust you arrived well. Thanks to you for the good writing skills because you have summarised all. I enjoyed Swazland to the fullest, I learnt much about digital transformation and the changing roles of librarians.

    Indeed the librarians role has changed from a book finder to the information giver. I had an opportunity to meet and mingle with big names which I could only read in online journals.

    I had an opportunity to meet someone whome I have extensively regered to her work during my professioanl carrier. Indeed it is of great benefit for upcomming professionals to be goven opportunity to attend these international conferences.

    1. Thanks Tim. Much appreciated and it was great seeing you around. I am glad you leant a lot just like any other focused delegate who attended this conference. Cheers!

  3. Hello Eric.
    I fully agree with your views on SCECSAL 2016. I also like the way you have highlighted the role of SCECSAL in providing a platform / space for professional networking and the fact that you benefited from the conference. I also enjoyed myself and established a couple of professional contacts.
    SCECSAL conferences should provide various opportunities for capacity development and networking for LIS professionals in the region. I would recommend to future hosts of SCECSAL to consider reserving a day for parallel sessions focusing on various aspects of professional development. This day could be used for specialized courses, seminars and workshops. I am sure a large number of seasoned LIS professionals can offer their time to deliver these events. There could be token charge to take care of the meeting rooms, specialized equipment i.e. hire of LCD projectors, computers, etc. where there are needed; course/workshop handouts, and many others. The fact that people are already at the conference, they will find it easier to take part in such events.
    How about Uganda Library and Information Association piloting this approach? I offer myself to work closely with the organizing committee on a concept note for the capacity development day.

  4. Thank you very much Dr Chisenga for the generous comments and suggestion about a parallel session. It's indeed a good idea. Hopefully ULIA and other subsequent hosts could try it out. This would be a great way of transitioning the leadership in the forum. Much appreciated.