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13 March 2018 Photo Edwin Mthimkhulu
Solomon Mahlangu inspires UFS alumnus first Sesotho book
Ace Moloi questions and delves into the concept of freedomin Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho

Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho is the title of Ace Moloi’s anthology of short stories and the name of one of the 14 stories in the book. The anthology is the first book in Sesotho published by the three-time author.

On Friday, 16 March 2018, Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho, an Art Fusion Literature product, will make its debut public appearance during a public reading at the University of the Free State’s Equitas Auditorium at 17:30.

Moloi’s first literary offering was In Her Fall Rose A Nation which was published in 2013 during his final-year as a Communication Science student at the university. In 2016, Moloi published Holding My Breath, which was praised widely for stirring emotions in readers who related to the heart-wrenching narrative of losing a mother. It was only this year that the author managed to achieve his teenage goal of establishing himself as a vernacular author.

Solomon Mahlangu, an African National Congress freedom fighter and Umkhonto we Sizwe militant who was convicted of murder and hanged in 1979, was the inspiration behind the anthology. Mahlangu inspired the Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho story, which is the story of the selflessness of a captured guerrilla hero in the face of police torture and his eventual death by hanging. It represents Mahlangu and those who suffered during the struggle for liberation. 

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom,” are the supposed last words uttered by Mahlangu that inspired the book’s title. Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho means “the fruits of freedom” in Sesotho. For Moloi, writing in the vernacular symbolises the fruits of freedom. “I’m trying to write in a revolutionary spirit, in Sesotho, because we haven’t done that. We have not seriously interrogated political concepts in Sesotho or in any native language,” he said.

Graduate unemployment, violent crime, and sports are some of the other topics tackled in the book. These act as a catalyst for debates over the evidence of ‘the fruits of freedom’ in post-1994 South Africa. 

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Plant-strengthening agent enhances natural ability of plants to survive
2015-07-27

Drought, diseases, and fungi. These are factors that farmers have no control over, and they often have to watch despondently as their crops are damaged. In addition, the practice of breeding plants in special and strictly-controlled conditions, has resulted in crops losing the chemical ability to protect themselves in nature.

Researchers in the Department of Soil, Crop, and Climate Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) have developed an organic agent that restores this chemical imbalance in plants. It enables the plant to build its own resistance against mild stress factors, and thus ensures increased growth and yield by the plant.

ComCat®, a plant-strengthening agent, is the result of extensive research by the German company, Agraforum AG, together with the UFS. Commercialisation was initially limited to Europe, while research was done at the UFS.

“Plants have become weak because they were grown specially and in isolation. They can’t protect themselves any longer,” says Dr Elmarie van der Watt from the department.

Dr Van der Watt says that, in nature, plants communicate by means of natural chemicals as part of their resistance mechanisms towards various stress conditions. These chemicals enable them to protect themselves against stress conditions, such as diseases and fungi (biotic conditions) or wind and droughts (abiotic conditions).

Most wild plant varieties are usually well-adapted to resist these stress factors. However, monoculture crops have lost this ability to a large extent.

The European researchers extracted these self-protection chemicals from wild plants, and made them available to the UFS for research and development.

“This important survival mechanism became dormant in monoculture crops. ComCat® wakes the plant up and says ‘Hey, you should start protecting yourself’.”

Research over the last few years has shown that the agent, applied mostly as a foliar spray, subsequently leads to better seedlings, as well as to growth, and yields enhancement of various crops. This is good news for the agricultural sector as it does not induce unwanted early vegetative growth that could jeopardise the final yield ? as happened in the past for nitrogen application at an early growth stage.

“The use of synthetic agents, such as fungicides which contain copper, are now banned. Nowadays, options for natural and organic agriculture is being investigated. This product is already widely used in Europe, but because farmers are often swamped by quacks, the South African market is still somewhat sceptical.”

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