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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. 


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Another L’Atelier feather in the university’s cap
2013-07-24

 

Pauline Gutter, winner of this year’s Absa L’Atelier competition
Photo: Supplied
23 July 2013

"Dagbreek: Die Dagbreker" - interview with Pauline Gutter (YouTube)

A former Kovsie won the Absa L’Atelier competition – South Africa’s most prestigious art competition – for the second year in a row.

Pauline Gutter, who completed her BA Fine Arts degree at the UFS in 2003, is the second artist from the Free State to win the competition, which is in its 28th year of existence. In 2012, Elrie Joubert, another former Kovsie student from the Department of Fine Arts, won the competition as well.

As overall winner, Gutter receives a cash prize of R125 000 and six months’ residency in the studio apartment Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France.

Her winning entry, Die huweliksaansoek, is an interactive work consisting of a 1.8 m high association-rich obelisk, an engraved plaque, a small TV monitor and a farm-line handset. A video of a bull standing in a crush while semen is being drawn from it, is displayed. The viewer is invited to listen in voyeuristically. The soundtrack for the text is composed of statements and comments made by participants in the programme “Boer soek `n Vrou”. The question highlighted by the work, is, “does a farmer choose his future wife in the same way he breeds his stud animals?”

Pauline says her association with the farm, principled parents and strong family ties serve as inspiration for her work. To express her artistic voice in a contemporary environment is to be a close observer of society, she says. “It’s to ask questions which confront the viewer in a provocative way.”

Her advice to new artists is “hard work, sustainability and commitment. Keep looking until you find the place where you fit in.”

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