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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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UFS partners with the Steve Biko Foundation
2010-09-14

The Steve Biko Foundation, with the support of the University of the Free State (UFS) and other stakeholders, recently presented the Annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture as part of the 33rd Anniversary Commemoration of Steve Biko at the University of Cape Town. The lecture, Coming to See You Since I was Five Years Old: An American poet's connection to the South African soul, was delivered by Pulitzer Prize winner Prof. Alice Walker. She drew on her poetry, personal history and the inspirational role of the South African liberation struggle to disenfranchised people around the world.

This prestigious lecture has to date been delivered by, amongst others, such luminaries as former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prof. Chinua Achebe. The lecture was preceded by an evening of poetry and prose, An evening with Alice Walker, at the State Theatre in Pretoria where the UFS was also represented. Pictured at the lecture are the UFS representatives, from the left: Mr Teboho Manchu (Director: Student Affairs, Qwaqwa Campus), Mr Willem Ellis (Centre for Development Support), Ms Lihlomelo Toyana (student), Mr JC van der Merwe (Department of Philosophy) and Mr Billyboy Ramahlele (Director: Community Engagement).
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

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