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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

International conference on breaking cycles of the past in societies affected by historical trauma
2012-12-06

 
28 November 2012

An interdisciplinary group of scholars, experts and practitioners from 24 countries around the world will gather at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein from 5 - 8 December 2012 for a conference on “Engaging the Other: Breaking Intergenerational Cycles of Repetition.”

The conference intends to open new avenues of inquiry into the trans-generational effects of trauma on communities that have experienced extreme violence.

One of the highlights of the conference is a presentation by Marguerite Barankitse, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, on Thursday 6 December 2012. Marguerite has received several awards and distinctions for her work aimed at transforming the lives of Hutu and Tutsi children affected by war. Among these are the highly prestigious humanitarian prize, the Opus Prize, the UNESCO Prize, and the World's Children's Prize, also known as the ‘Nobel Prize’ for humanitarian work aimed at improving the lives of children and their chances of a better future.

On Saturday 8 December 2012 Prof. Martha Nussbaum, one of the world’s foremost philosophers, will deliver a keynote address on “Reconciliation: The political role of the Arts.” Prof. Nussbaum will receive a D.Litt. degree in the Faculty of Humanities from the UFS on 6 December 2012.

Other guests include Michael Lapsley, survivor of an apartheid bombing, Kimberlyn Leary, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr Jean Decety, Irving B. Harris Professor at the University of Chicago and Dr Katerina Fotopoulou from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University College in London.

One of the conference events entitled “South Africans speak about the crisis of moral leadership: A public dialogue” will be open to the public and presented in the Centenary Complex on Friday 7 December 2012 from 18:00-19:30. Participants in the public dialogue include some of South Africa’s most thoughtful social commentators and a community activist: Barney Pityana (Professor and Rector, College of Transfiguration); Prince Mashele (Director: Centre for Politics and Research); Pierre de Vos (Professor of Law, University of Cape Town); and Faeza Meyer (Chairperson: Tafelsig Residents Unite).

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