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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

Mpofu-Walsh inspires with music, word, and wisdom
2017-08-22

Description: TEDxUFS   Tags: TEDxUFS

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh shared with the audience the
creative process of writing a song at the 2017
TEDxUFS conference.
Photo: Voxomnia

“Sometimes it’s the parts of us that give us the most agony, the parts of us that we think we need to change to conform to other people’s expectations, which are actually the gateways which allow us to make an impact in the world.”

This encouragement from Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh was one of the highlights of the 2017 TEDxUFS conference. According to the author, musician, and activist, we should embrace every part of ourselves. We should understand that the way in which each of us can change the world, is by becoming one with all the different parts of us which people think can’t come together.

Audience hears project for first time

For the first time ever, Sizwe shared material from his project Democracy and delusionwith an audience at the 4th annual TEDxUFS conference in the Odeion Theatre at the University of the Free State on 5 August 2017. Other speakers included the likes of Murendeni Mafumo, founder of Gentle Giant, and Elijah Djan, CEO and inventor of Nubrix.

The event also included TEDx videos, breath-taking performances, and cutting-edge technological exhibitions. The theme was Prism of Possibilities.

Launching a book and album together

Sizwe shared how he, while studying at the University of Oxford, embarked on an ambitious project where he combined his passion for academics and music: To release a book and album about the same things at the same time.

The project is a reflection of the political landscape in South Africa. Sizwe showed how he created a song about student protests by putting different layers of music together.

“The only way to do something that will leave you truly remembered is to do something different. It is to take all of yourself and pour it into the creative pursuit that you produce.”

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