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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

A journey into self-discovery
2011-08-17

Sandy Little

The launch of the film and book Africa meets Africa: Pathways through the Interior at our university was a huge success.

It forms part of the The Africa meets Africa Project that is known for making connections between knowledge systems in pursuit of learning. It integrates amongst others beadwork and weaving with mathematics.

The film takes one through the Free State and some parts of the Northern Cape. The two actors, Mr Lerato Mokhitli and Ms Sandy Little, are both art students at Kovsies. During the trip they reveal some historic events not known to all. Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said: “Our history is a lot more complex and interesting than current texts allow. Much of what happened laid the foundations for trauma, and triumph is poorly understood. More so, is the history of the ordinary.”

The film and book are funded by National Heritage Council and FirstRand. It was launched in other provinces, among them KwaZulu-Natal. The Africa meets Africa Project aims to use the book in the Free State and Northern Cape in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase for educators and university students.

Prof. Jansen furthermore said: “I would definitely recommend the book with some additions, such as representation of excluded cultures. This would include white ethnographic histories and cultures and the intersections across black/white, African/European histories. I would also make the subject history compulsory to ensure that children would be exposed to our complex history.”

Ms Moipone Kabaoe, a third-year B.Soc.Sc. student at UFS, said: “The film was very informative and clarified some things. I also believe the actors have actually grown from the experience and they did a great job.”

Mrs Anna Mokhitli was ecstatic at the launch, as any proud mother would be. “I knew they were working so hard, but I never thought it would be something this big,” she said. Ms Helene Smuts, Director of Africa meets Africa, said: “You cannot learn until you start with what you know. This is the journey we took; now you must take your own.”
 

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