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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

‘Language central to multidisciplinary society’
2012-03-22

 

Dr. Neville Alexander (right) discussed the role of language and culture in creating tolerance in South Africa. On the left is Prof. André Keet, Director of the UFS' International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconcilliation and Social Justice.
Photo: Johan Roux
22 March 2012

A multilingual state and culture could lead to more tolerance in South Africa, and schools and universities could play a leading role in the creation of a multilingual culture.

This is according to Dr Neville Alexander, one of South Africa’s foremost linguists and educationalists.

Dr Alexander spoke during a discussion session on language issues in a new South Africa at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.

He said in a multidisciplinary society, language is central to everything we do. 

“Language has the ability to empower people or to disempower them. Yet the present government failed to value the other official South African languages, apart from Afrikaans and English.”

Dr Alexander said it is “convenient and cheap” for the government “to only govern in English”.

Government officials and academics often used the shortage of terminology and glossaries in various African languages as an excuse to use only English as the medium of instruction. This tendency puts young children in the South African school system at a disadvantage since it deprives them of their right to mother tongue education.

According to Dr Alexander, this is similar to the problems that academics experienced centuries ago when only Latin terminology existed for certain disciplines.

“It is the task of educationalists and experts to develop the necessary word lists and terminology to offer more economic value to all our official languages.”

If multilingualism was promoted at school level, a multilingual culture would become more acceptable in future. In this way, we could have an isiZulu of isiXhosa dominant university in South Africa in 30 years time.
 

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