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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

‘Celebrating the music of our times’
2013-07-25

 

25 July 2013

The Odeion School of Music’s (OSM) New Music Week, hosted from 17–20 July 2013, offered an experience of profundity.

This was the second week-long festival of its kind to be hosted by the OSM – last year the 90th birthday of the South African composer, Stefans Grové, was celebrated with concerts and a symposium. This year the New Music Week focused on the visit of Ensemble Trans-Z under the artistic leadership of former OSM student, Alfred Vorster, a composer living in Zürich. The Order of the Odeion School of Music was bestowed upon Vorster during the festival. The members of the ensemble are the Belgian pianist Lukas Huisman, Danré Strydom (currently an OSM doctoral student in clarinet, based in Ghent), the Argentinian violinist Juan Braceras and the Swedish cellist Karolina Öhman (both currently living in Basel, Switzerland).

The week included three lectures. Lukas Huisman elucidated his doctoral project, Alfred Vorster offered an analytical perspective on the work of Helmut Lachenmann and Hannes Taljaard (Potchefstroom) delivered a commentary on his own composition practice. In addition to presenting masters’ classes in their individual instruments, Ensemble Trans-Z also hosted two workshops – one for the Mangaung String Project and another for OSM students and staff. These workshops focused on creative improvisation practices within an avant-garde style.

The highlight of the festival was two gala concerts that were held on 19 and 20 July. The first concert was hosted by Ensemble Trans-Z themselves, with a selection of compositions in the avant-garde style. The programme included challenging listening material and was creatively presented with unconventional lighting techniques and visual material.

The concert on 20 July consisted of New Music of a more conventional nature. The Odeion String Quartet offered a varied presentation which consisted of a rich mix of talent. OSM postgraduate students Marianne Cilliers, Karol Legierski and Eljee du Plooy formed part of this spectacular performance. The OSM flute lecturer, Handri Loots and the members of Ensemble Trans-Z supplied additional depth to the concert. The experience was made extra special by the recently-formed New Music Ensemble of the School of Music at the North-West University – led by Augusto Arias. Under conductorship of Jan-Moritz Onken, the OSM Camerata completed this impressive collaboration.

The Camerata’s recital of Hendrik Hofmeyr’s Phantom Waltz, which the composer newly arranged especially for this ensemble, was but one of the artistic highlights of an inspiring presentation.

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