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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

Beyers Naudé challenge still stands – Dr Allan Boesak
2011-09-14

 

Dineo Babili, a first-year Foundation-phase Education student, reading out her winning essay during the final Beyers Naudé Memorial Lecture held last Friday. Dineo and Siphesihle Mavundla (poetry) both won R3 000,00 each from Kagiso Trust.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

The eighth Annual Beyers Naudé Memorial Lecture Series reached its climax with the third and last lecture being presented by Dr Allan Boesak at our Qwaqwa Campus on Friday, 9 September 2011. The first two lectures were presented by our Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, and Prof. Kwandiwe Kondlo who heads our Centre for Africa Studies, respectively.

In his address, Dr Boesak posed hard-hitting questions, such as ‘'What kind of society do we want to be? At what price are we willing to sell the noble history of the struggle, the ideals and hopes of our people, the meaning of the freedom we sacrificed for?'’ He spoke fondly of his former friend and colleague who had appealed to the government of the day in 1973 to understand that the future security of our country did not lie with a consensus of white opinion, but rather ‘'a consensus of white and black opinion'’.

Dr Boesak said that Oom Bey had asked white people ‘to speak and act before it was too late’ and that he appealed to black people to prepare for the day on which they would be truly free.

‘'That was his hope. When he died, democracy had come, but this hope had not been realised and today we are in serious danger of losing it altogether. We have the matchless Freedom Charter; we have a most progressive Constitution; we have an impressive body of laws and we have enviable policy positions. However, the challenge from Beyers Naudé still stands and it comes to a new generation: it is time to transform words into deeds. The time for pious talk is over,'’ said Dr Boesak.

The lecture was well received by students and staff, as well as leaders and representatives from various sectors in the community. Learners and educators from a number of schools in the region also attended. Next year’s series will be hosted on the South Campus in Bloemfontein.
 

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