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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

Supplementum analyses the San origin of South African place names
2013-09-25

 

At the launch were, from the left: Prof Lucius Botes (Dean: Faculty of the Humanities), Christine van Deventer (SUN MeDIA), Prof Peter Raper (author), Prof Theodorus du Plessis (Head of Department: Linguistics and Language Practice), and Prof Dirk van den Berg (outgoing editor).
Photo: Jerry Mokoroane
25 September 2013

The Acta Academica Supplementum 2012 (2), under the outgoing editorship of Prof Dirk van den Berg, was launched on 16 September 2013. The author, Prof Peter Raper, is one of the leading place-name experts in South Africa. The Supplementum analyses the San origin of South African place names whereby different layers of language contact are exposed. For example, Dipodi (previously Jakkalsdraai), is an adaptation of the original San name. The first ‘di’ is the added Sotho preposition. ‘Po’ is equal to the San word ‘po’ (jackal) and the last ‘di’ equal to ‘/gi’ (to bend). Prof Raper’s research indicates that many place names carry evidence of various language shifts. By analysing these language layers, different phases of language contact are exposed. This research is instrumental in the preservation of a unique aspect of the South African cultural heritage.

Prof Raper is since 2011 Honorary Professor: Linguistics, in the Department of Language Management and Language Practice at the University of the Free State. He is one of South Africa’s leading toponymists. The fourth edition of the New Dictionary of Southern African Place Names, with Dr Lucie Möller and Prof Theodorus du Plessis as co-editors, is currently in the press. He is a member of the Commission for Toponymy of the International Geographical Union, as well as the Working Group for Toponymy of the International Cartographic Association, of which there are only ten members worldwide, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the journal Names.

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