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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

UFS hosts YSI for first conference of its kind in Africa
2017-06-13

Description: UFS hosts YSI  Tags: UFS hosts YSI

From the left: Bryson Nkhoma, a doctoral student from
the International Studies Group, Prof Francis Petersen,
Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, and
Dr Tinashe Nyamunda, a postdoctoral fellow from the
International Studies Group.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

In the first conference of its kind on the African continent, the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein Campus was privileged to host the Young Scholars Initiative (YSI) conference.

Reflecting on the African experience

A total of 65 young and senior scholars from five continents attended the conference Decolonising Africa? The Economic History of Development, hosted by the YSI in partnership with the International Studies Group at the UFS.

The conference, held on 8 and 9 June 2017, provided an opportunity to reflect on the African experience from an historical perspective and to assess the current position of the continent in the global economy. It discussed new themes in development, such as the role of women, minorities and entrepreneurs.

The conference focused on how the business community has operated in an Africa that still faces inequalities and unfair terms of trade and lacks a unified political will.

Keynote speakers at conference

Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said decolonisation was not self-explanatory. “In its radical form, decolonisation presents two polar opposites. On the one side is white privilege and on the other is black pain.”

Prof Ian Phimister, Senior Research Professor at the Centre for Africa Studies at the UFS presented the opening keynote address entitled International Imperialism: The Violent Making of Southern Africa, 1884-1914.

Other keynote speakers included Prof Sabelo Ndlovu Gatsheni from the University of Pretoria, Prof Gareth Austin from the University of Cambridge, and the closing keynote by Prof Alois Mlambo from the University of Pretoria.

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