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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

Ghanaian academic speaks about next generation of African scholars
2013-10-08

 

Attending the seminar were from left: Adv Erika Cilliers, Sisa Mlonyeni (both from the Office of the Public Protector), Prof Adomako Ampofo and Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of the Centre for Africa Studies.
Photo: Jerry Mokoroane
08 October 2013

Prof Akosua Adomako Ampofo, one of the Centre for Africa Studies’newly-appointed advisory board members, addressed students and staff on 3 October 2013. Her topic Are you the scholar Africa needs?enthralled the audience with the passionate way in which she argued for nurturing activist-scholars rather than scholars who simply produce knowledge for the sake of it. “It is more urgent than ever before that … we do not simply see our roles as researchers and teachers, but that we are committed to impacting our communities” for the better – also by “making our knowledge production globally visible,” she argued. Africa is said to contribute less than 0.5 percent of the world’s scientific publications. The fact that most of these – and nearly all of the social science production – emanate from just three nations (Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa) means that many countries are absent from the radar.

According to her, the next generation of African scholars will have to compete within a hostile terrain where private universities are proliferating and costs of higher education are on the rise. These scholars will have to possess 22nd century skills, but a 20th century heart and sensitivity for the continent and its people.

Drawing on Kwame Nkrumah, Prof Ampofo proposed three guiding principles for becoming the scholars Africa needs. Firstly, by having a passion for knowledge as well as an Africa-centred knowledge – “nobody can tell our stories better than we can.”. Secondly, to translate our research into outputs not only in the form of internationally-recognised publications, but also in popular sources that will be read by a much wider public. And lastly, to carrying the torch for teaching and learning in the classroom – preparing our students to serve Africa or, as Nkrumah said, producing “devoted men and women with imagination and ideas, who, by their life and actions, can inspire our people to look forward to a great future.”.

Akosua Adomako Ampofo is a Professor of African and Gender Studies, and Director of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. An activist-scholar, her current work addresses African knowledge systems; race, ethnicity and identity politics; gender-based expressions of violence; constructions of masculinities; women and work; and popular culture. She is currently co-editing a volume titled, Transatlantic Feminisms: Women and Gender in Africa and the African Diaspora.In 2010, she was awarded the Sociologists for Women in Society Feminist Activism Award.


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