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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

National Literacy Month celebrated
2013-09-16

 

Revelling in the lighter side of life on Robben Island, were from left: Paddy Harper, Gugu Kunene, Peter-Paul Ngwenya, Betsy Eister, Director of the UFS Library and Information Services, and Fred Khumalo.
Photo: Jerry Mokoroane
16 September 2013

In recognition of National Literacy Month, the UFS Library and Information Services hosted journalists Fred Khumalo, Paddy Harper and Gugu Kunene, who launched their book,‘The lighter side of Life on Robben Island’, to Bloemfontein book lovers.

Khumalo, a Sunday Times review columnist, Harper, a journalist for City Press, and Kunene, a former SABC journalist, enthralled the audience with snippets from their book. “We have read so many other books on Robben Island,” Khumalo said, “focusing on the famous people like (Nelson) Mandela and (Ahmed) Kathrada. The idea of this book is to reflect on lesser-known individuals; explore and illuminate other aspects of their lives."

To give the audience just such an intimate glimpse into those experiences, Peter-Paul Ngwenya – a former inmate on Robben Island –shared the stage in the Scaena Theatre. When Ngwenya, now chairperson of Makana Investment Corporation, regaled attendees with anecdotes from fellow detainees and everyday prison life, he brought the entire house down in stitches of laughter.

Contrasting the light banter of everyday life with the hardships prisoners faced, Khumalo said the book celebrates "the humanity of individuals – those sides of the story that make them human beings with fully fledged lives."

 

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