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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

Humour a powerful tool to address serious issues
2017-12-06


 Description: Michelle Malan  Tags: Michelle Malan  

Michelle Malan received a Dean’s medal from the Faculty of Humanities at the mid-year
graduation ceremonies for her Master’s degree.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

People, in most contexts, are more open to engage in serious issues such as politics and economics if it is presented in a humorous way. This makes humour a very powerful tool to address burning issues in our society.

These are some of the findings in the research of Michelle Malan, a part time lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice at the University of the Free State (UFS). 

How comedians and cartoonists use humour
The basic premise of her research, titled The Intersemiotic Translation of Humour, was to see how comedians and cartoonists take news stories and translate it into humour. She received the Dean’s medal for the best Master’s degree in the Faculty of the Humanities at the mid-year graduation ceremonies in June 2017.

“More specifically, I explored how the medium constrains potential meaning-making in cases of intersemiotic translation in which humour is constructed,” she says.

Cartoon vs a comic television show
According to her the medium in which a message is given, in this case comedy, definitely influences how one is able to form meaning from it. “For instance, a cartoon (visual medium) would have a different meaning-making potential than a comic television show.”

She also notes that one must understand the workings of humour, which includes the mediums in which it is presented, so that the intended humour does not do more harm than good. 

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