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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

#Women'sMonth: Kovsie entrepreneur making waves in business world
2017-08-25

  Description: Akhona new Tags: entrepreneurship, business, accounting, awards, academy, women

Akhona Monakalali to take on the business world.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

Whoever came up with the idea that ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’, has definitely not met Akhona Monakalali. Monakalali, a postgraduate student busy with an Accounting diploma on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS), is a force to be reckoned with. She was born in Katlehong Township in Gauteng, and moved to Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape a few years later. 


Making international waves in business

Monakalali is a Professional Accountant and an entrepreneur who continues to make her mark in the entrepreneurial world. She just recently participated in the Progressive African Network’s (PAN) Annual African Entrepreneurship Expo in Boston, USA, which was hosted by PAN and the Hult Women in Business Club. She was invited to the expo to share her insights on entrepreneurship in South Africa. “I and four other Africans participated in the expo via Skype. It was a very successful event and very insightful,” she says.

Awarded for positive contribution in communities
While she was doing her undergraduate degree, she was elected as the President/CEO of the Golden Key UFS Chapter in 2007. After competing with other universities in the national championships, they won and qualified for the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) World Cup in New York City. SIFE is an international non-profit organisation working with university students who want to change their communities positively, and gain practical knowledge to become socially responsible business leaders. 

This international acknowledgement influenced her peers – among millions of other South African teens – to vote for her in the Seventeen Magazine’s Top Teen Achiever Award for her community contribution. Later in that same year, she received a special Service Leadership Award from the Dean of her faculty for her contribution towards creating a better world through business.
She has since established an in-home tutoring foundation called Monakali Academy, which offers parents and struggling students affordable, one-on-one tutoring in the comfort of their homes.
“Tutoring is performed in the student’s home in order to provide a comfortable and non-competitive environment for learning,” says Monakalali.
She will also be involved with various entrepreneurs throughout Africa, working on ways to improve youth entrepreneurship on the African continent.

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