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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. 


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Premiere of the documentary on King Moshoeshoe - Address by the Rector
2004-10-14

Address by the rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State, prof Frederick Fourie, at the premiere of the documentary on King Moshoeshoe, Wednesday 13 October 2004

It is indeed a privilege to welcome you at this key event in the Centenary celebrations of the University of the Free State.

We are simultaneously celebrating 100 years of scholarship with 10 years of democracy

Today is a very important day with great significance for the University. This Centenary is not merely a celebration of an institution of a certain age. It is a key event in this particular phase of our history, in our transformation as an institution of higher learning, in taking the creation of a high-quality, equitable, non-racial, non-sexist, multicultural and multilingual university seriously.

This is about building something new out of the old, of creating new institutional cultures and values from diverse traditions.

It is about learning together - as an higher education institution - about who we are where we come from – to decide where we are going.

It is about merging the age-old tradition of the university, of the academic gown, with the Basotho blanket, the symbol of community engagement.

Then why is it important that we remember Moshoeshoe, where does he fit into our history?

In the Free State province, where large numbers of Basotho and Afrikaners (and others) now live together, a new post-apartheid society is being built in the 21st century.

The challenge is similar to that faced by Moshoeshoe 150 years ago. As you will see tonight, he did a remarkable thing in forging a new nation out of a fragmented society. He also created a remarkable spirit of reconciliation and a remarkable style of leadership.

Not all people in South Africa know the history of Moshoeshoe. Many Basotho – but not all – are well versed in the history of Moshoeshoe, and his name is honoured in many a street, town and township. Many white people know very little of him, or have a very constrained or even biased view of his role and legacy. In Africa and the world, he his much less known than, for instance, Shaka. (In Lesotho, obviously, he is widely recognised and praised.)

We already benefit from his legacy: the people of the Free State share a tradition of moderation and reconciliation rather than one of aggression and domination.

With Moshoeshoe, together with Afrikaner leaders and reconciliators such as President MT Steyn and Christiaan de Wet, we have much to be thankful for.

Our challenge is take this legacy further: to forge a new society in which different cultural, language and racial groups – Basotho, Afrikaners and others – will all feel truly at home.

Bit by bit, on school grounds, on university campuses, in each town and city, people must shape the values and principles that will mould this new non-racial, multicultural and multilingual society.

A shared sense of history, shared stories and shared heroes are important elements in such a process.

Through this documentary film about King Moshoeshoe, the UFS commits itself to developing a shared appreciation of the history of this country and to the establishment of the Free State Province as a model of reconciliation and nation-building.

Moshoeshoe is also a strong common element, and binding factor, in the relationship between South Africa / the Free State, and its neighbour, Lesotho.

For the University of the Free State this also is an integral part of real transformation – of creating a new unity amidst our diversity.

Transformation has so many aspects: whilst the composition of our student and staff populations have been changing, many other things change at the same time: new curricula, new research, new community service learning projects.

In also includes creation of new values, new (shared) histories, new (shared) heroes.

It includes the incorporation of the Qwaqwa campus, which serves a region where so many of the children of Moshoeshoe live, including her majesty Queen Mopeli.

We see in Moshoeshoe a model of African leadership – of reconciliation and nation-building – that can have a significant impact in South Africa and Africa as a whole.

We also find in the legacy of King Moshoeshoe the possibility of an “founding philosophy”, or “defining philosophy”, for the African renaissance.

To develop this philosophy, we must gain a deeper understanding of what really happened there, of his role, of his leadership.

Therefore the University of the Free State will encourage and support further research into the history, politics and sociology of the Moshoeshoe period, including his leadership style.

We hope to do this in partnership with National University of Lesotho.

The Moshoeshoe documentary is one element of a long-term project of the UFS. The other elements of the project that we are investigating are possible PhD-level research; a possible annual Moshoeshoe memorial lecture on African leadership; and then possible schools projects and other ways and symbols of honouring him.

It is my sincere wish that all communities of the Free State and of South Africa will be able to identify with the central themes of this documentary, and develop a shared appreciation for leaders such as King Moshoeshoe and the legacy of peace, reconciliation and nation-building that they have left us.

Prof. Frederick Fourie
Rector and Vice-Chancellor
University of the Free State
13 October 2004.

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