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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

Lunch-time lecture on the subject of contested memories
2011-08-23

 

Guests at the lecture from the left: Dr. Sheila Aronstam, a former UFS Council member; Dr. Eva Hoffman and Henya Bryer a survivor of the Holocaust
Photo: Amanda Tongha

Acclaimed Polish author and academic Dr Eva Hoffman visited the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus on 16 Augustus 2010 to deliver a lunch-time lecture on the subject of contested memories.

Speaking about the after-effects of unjust violence on second-generation Holocaust survivors, Dr Hoffman drew some parallels between the history of Eastern Europe and that of South Africa, stating that with some categories of conflict and prejudice the context in this region of the world might not be too remote. Dr Hoffman, born to Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust, told the audience that in most instances the past was still alive in the present.
 
Talking about traumatic memories, Dr Hoffman revisited her family’s suffering during the Holocaust and stated that the second generation lives with the paradoxes of indirect knowledge. According to her there has to be acknowledgment of the injustice to put the conflict and tension inherited from a repressed history truly to rest. Referring to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), she said wrongs could not be forgiven until they were admitted. 
 
Dr Hoffman, who is the author of books such as Lost in Translation: life in a new language and Stetl: the life and death of a small town and the world of Polish Jews, praised the university for being on the forefront of social issues in democratic South Africa.

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