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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

More grey areas than just black and white in history?
2017-12-15


Description: Abraham Mlombo readmore Tags: Historic, historian, International Studies Group, ISG  

Dr Abraham Mlombo: As a historian, he draws energy
from the people surrounding him.
Photo: Charl Devenish


 

Very few people understand that their actions and views within a territory stem from their roots or history. To enlighten the reading man on the composition of his base and the intricacies of the powers that are at play, is the work of historians.

Dr Abraham Mlombo is one of these historians, stationed within the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State (UFS).

This research group consists of postgraduate researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and academic staff that focus on African history, although they depart from more traditional study methods  a more global perspective. To date, Dr Mlombo's research examined the historical relations between South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. It was a broad study of the political, economic, social, and cultural relations from 1923 to 1953. He plans to continue by truly exploring the connections between South Africa and the region, and how they shaped one another. Dr Mlombo's interests in cross-border history and politics were inspired by his master’s degree in Political Science at Stellenbosch University. He researched his PhD at the UFS.

He draws energy for his work from the people surrounding him, and likes to be part of new experiences with people from different backgrounds. He feels such environments shape the way one works, as well as one’s world view. Dr Mlombo hints that sometimes, and specifically in South Africa, people focus very narrowly on their history and forget that many international links are at play. He sees his work as a historian to help open people's horizons.

Dr Mlombo suggests that future research should include a more critical analysis of how things unfolded during the second half of the 20th century. Writings should include more social- and people-oriented history, because he thinks there are more grey areas than just black and white. Many more interrogations must also follow into the assumptions of historical events and the individuals who played the greatest roles in Southern Africa.

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