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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

University hosts Mandela Rhodes scholars
2012-10-02

Kovsie Dux student and SRC member Tumelo Moreri (centre), with Danielle Bowler and Unnel-Teddy Ngoumandjoka, two of the Mandela Rhodes Scholars who attended a summit for past and current recipients of the prestigious bursary on the Bloemfontein Campus.
1 October 2012
Photo: Johan Roux

Some of Africa’s top young minds gathered at the University of the Free State to discuss new ways of thinking about education on the continent.

About 50 current and past recipients of the prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship from across the continent gathered on the Bloemfontein Campus to attend the Community of Mandela Rhodes Scholars Summit from 29 September to 1 October 2012. The theme for the summit was Re-Imagining Education in Africa and recipients from South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda attended.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the university, addressed the Mandela Rhodes scholars and told them as Africa’s next generation of leaders they have to be courageous, caring and agents of change. “You cannot re-imagine education unless you have imaginative leaders”, he told them. Referring to leaders like Martin Luther King, Chief Albert Luthuli, Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, Prof. Jansen told them in order to lead, they should have the capacity for caring, contemplation, courage, change,contrition,conciliation and clarity.

Mandela Rhodes Scholar and Convener of the Summit, Andrew Gasnolar, said the insights gained will be utilised by recipients in their spaces. "A consistent element which cropped up was that our privilege requires us to do the right thing. Active citizenry is required in which we all actively take a part in the education situation - from adopting a student to adopting a school to taking up teaching."

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