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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

International Bible scholars attend conference on Apocalyptic Literature and Mysticism
2017-09-18

Description: Bible Scholars Tags: Bible Scholars, UFS Faculty of Theology and Religion, Prof Francis Petersen 

Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor,
second from left, flanked by three
deans of theology: Prof Fanie Snyman (UFS),
Prof Jörg Frey (University of Zurich),
and Prof Gregory Sterling (Yale Divinity School).
Photo: Eugene Seegers


Apocalypticism and mysticism have become two key areas of research that have converged to form the heart of contemporary spirituality. It was with this in mind that leading local and international Bible scholars were invited to a collaborative international conference jointly hosted by the UFS Faculty of Theology and Religion and Yale Divinity School, with the theme Apocalyptic Literature and Mysticism—Investigating a Turn in Recent Apocalyptic Research.

It is perhaps unknown to many that a number of the most profound thinkers, both of Judeo-Christian tradition and other religions in general, were mystics. Their lives and writings speak of a longing for an intimate relationship with God, reflecting on universal existential questions such as understanding our human existence, our creation, and ultimately, the meaning of life.

Apocalypticism, on the other hand, focuses on texts and prophecies describing how an alternative, future world might replace our existing one, a process often cataclysmic in nature, thus, like the mystics, also reflecting on the deeper foundations of human existence and our possible demise.

Traditionally, both have been misunderstood and controversial, but more recent research has revealed their formative role in religious discourses, with many scholars finding growing commonalities between apocalyptic and mystical texts. Moreover, these commonalities help to establish a better understanding of Judeo-Christian traditions, as well as other religions in general.

This hugely successful UFS collaborative effort, as well as others of its kind, contribute to the growth of theology as a discipline, with a positive impact on the broader religious community, the church, and society as a whole in the common desire for a just, equitable, and humane world.

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