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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

Spring graduation an event second to none
2013-09-16

 

Chester Missing 'accompanied' by Conrad Koch
Photo: Lelanie de Wet
19 September 2013

  Photo Gallery
Chester Missing: YouTube video
Graduation ceremony: YouTube video

This year’s Spring Graduation on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State was a truly unique event.

From the moment Shenley Pretorius, a blind singer, opened her mouth to sing, a sensational ceremony unfolded in front of the 650 graduandi, their family and friends. The political analyst, puppet Chester Missing, was ‘released’ from his suitcase and – true to form – unleashed a pandora’s box of hilarity into the crowd. From beginning to end, the programme provided an occasion to be remembered for years to come.

Fifteen-year-old Shenley Pretorius, a Grade 9 learner at the Prinshof School for the Visually Impaired in Pretoria, performed her self-composed song, ‘I see you with my soul,’ sending shivers into the audience, followed by a version of Lady Antebellum’s ‘Never Alone’.

After her performance, a bustling Conrad Koch prepared the audience for his puppet, Chester Missing’s stream of whimsical satire. The on-stage antics of this cheeky ‘political commentator’ had the crowd crying with laughter with the now-famous twerk and did not disappoint with his ample mockery of politicians and celebrities. From President Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille, Julius Malema, Zwelinzima Vavi, Larry King to the cellphone manufacturer, Blackberry – nobody was spared.

In his speech, Prof Jansen highlighted the achievements of current and former Kovsie students. Sharing the stage with Prof Jansen was just such an example – former UFS student Johan Cronje. Recently, Cronje palmed in a bronze medal in the 1 500 m at the World Championships in Moscow.

"Don’t worry about where you came from. Worry about where you are headed to. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or couldn’t do." With these words, Prof Jansen sent the new Kovsie graduates into the world.

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