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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

Afrikaans place names were not only given by Afrikaner people, says professor.
2012-09-25

Prof. Peter Raper delivering his lecture on South African place names.
25 September 2012

 Prof. Peter Raper, honorary professor at the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice, delivered a public lecture in Clarens earlier this month. The theme of the lecture was “From Stone Age to GPS: The fourth edition of the South African Place Names Dictionary”.

Prof. Raper shared the historical development of the project as well as the challenges and other interesting observations associated with the topic. He elaborated on the dramatic change in the focus of his research on place names in South Africa.

It was previously assumed that all of the Afrikaans place names were given by the Afrikaner people and that changing these place names was consistent with the mandate of the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) to transform place names. Prof. Raper said more in-depth research revealed that a significant number of place names are actually translations of original San names – into Afrikaans, Khoi and the Bantu languages. He told the audience that given the constitutional stipulation that no cultural group’s heritage may be removed, this discovery calls into the question the modus operandi of the SAGNC.

Prof. Raper’s lecture was part of the conference programme of the Third International MIDP IV Symposium that took place on the Qwaqwa campus. The MIDP (Multilingual Information Development Programme) is a project sponsored by the Province of Antwerp. The theme for this year’s symposium was “Multilingualism for Empowerment” and was presented in collaboration with the University of Antwerp.

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