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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

UFS can lead SA in race relations - Ramphele
2010-08-06


 

 
Pictured are: Dr Boesak and Dr Ramphele
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

The University of the Free State (UFS) could well be a perfect model of excellence in race relations that the whole of South Africa could emulate.

This was said by Dr Mamphela Ramphele, the first African to be a Managing Director of the World Bank, during the Anti-Racism Network in Higher Education (ARNHE) Colloquium held at the UFS recently.

“Healing circles need to be constructed on this campus to address issues raised by the Reitz incident,” she said.

“You might yet be the pioneer of what needs to happen on a nation-wide level.

“Can we confidently commit today to go on this quest for a true humanity and walk together as fellow citizens and strive for a more human face for our society? That is our challenge. That is what the UFS is called to give leadership to.”

“It is this human face which has the power to liberate us from the body of death and strengthen us in our struggle for meaningful life together in South Africa,” added one of the main speakers, Dr Allan Boesak, a cleric and former anti-apartheid activist.

However, said Dr Ramphele, this could only be achieved if all South Africans, black and white, abandoned the fear for each other that was hindering, if not stalling, progress in this regard.

“Fear of each other is the most important impediment to the sustainability of our journey into a society united in our diversity,” she said.

“People in this country are afraid to stand up and be counted, including many vice-chancellors and clerics. They are afraid of being seen to be difficult, and that is a major problem. Fear is the most destructive emotion that you can have because it makes you really incompetent and unable to respond to challenges.”

She said the biggest impediment, though, to ending racism was denial. “White people deny vehemently that they are or have ever been racist,” she said.

“We need to go through a process of acknowledging our wounds and scars from our racist past and present missteps in public policy.”

“Instead of saying they are sorry, those who are conscious of their whiteness should rather say what they are sorry for,” said another main speaker, Prof. Dennis Francis, the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the UFS.

On the other hand, according to Dr Boesak, blacks were and still are, to a large extent, also to blame for their own ongoing oppression. “The key here was the acknowledgement of our sheepish timidity, our complicity,” he said.

The Chairperson of ARNHE, Prof. Norman Duncan, had this to say: “If we are to confront and eradicate racism in higher education institutions, we should not do so to create comfort zones for ourselves.”

The theme of this ARNHE Colloquium was Black consciousness and those conscious of their whiteness. It was presented by the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice at the UFS.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za 
6 August 2010


 

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