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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

‘We need a story that will excite us all’
2012-03-09

 

Attending the conversation were, from the left: Willemien Marais, Lecturer in the Department of Communication Science; Zubeida Jaffer; and Prof. Andre Keet, Director of the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.
Photo: Amanda Tongha
9 March 2012


“From the stories of Afrikaner Nationalism and Black Consciousness to the stories of our Constitution and the 1995 Rugby World Cup… But now what do we have?”

This was the question posed by Zubeida Jaffer, recently appointed as the university's Writer-in-Residence. Do we need a new national narrative? was the issue addressed by Ms Jaffer in a talk presented as part of the Critical Conversations series hosted by the university’s International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. Ms Jaffer is an award-winning journalist and author of, amongst others, Love in a time of treason and Our Generation.

“We can’t change the past and we can’t keep on focusing on separate narratives; we need to find a story, a new national narrative with elements that could excite all of us,” she told an audience consisting of academics and students. She also referred to the changes that took place at the university. “I’m fascinated by what is happening here. It’s mind-boggling to see the changes.” Based on the UFS’ drive to find common ground, Ms Jaffer told the audience that research at universities could and should direct this search for a common South African story. 

In reference to her own experiences as a community activist and journalist during apartheid, she urged students to become active citizens. “In my time students were the leaders; they gave direction to the national debate.” 
 

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