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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

Standing ovation for the UFS Camerata in St Petersburg, Russia
2013-11-26

 
Jan Moritz Onken conducting the Camerata during their performance at the 13th International Conservatoire in St Petersburg, Russia.

The OSM CAMERATA (OSMC), flagship ensemble of the University of the Free State’s Odeion School of Music, received a standing ovation during a gala concert at the 13th International Conservatoire Festival presented on 7 November 2013 in the Glazunov Hall under the baton of Maestro Jan Moritz Onken.

The International Conservatory Festival was founded in 2001 by the St Petersburg Rimsky Korsakov Conservatory and has since then become an annual highlight on the concert calendar of St Petersburg.

For the last thirteen years, the festival has developed as a centre of excellence for artists, lecturers, and music experts who represent higher institutions of music from almost every continent. This forum has introduced more than 200 conservatories internationally, and literally produced hundreds of concerts, master’s classes and lectures. Internationally-acclaimed musicians such as Yuri Temirkanov, Rodion Shchedrin, Saulius Sondeckis, Krzysztof Penderecki, Valery Gergiev, Vasily Sinaisky and Semyon Bychkov, as well as young talented performers on the brink of their international careers, have participated in the festival over the years.

The OSMC presented the artistic director of the festival, Prof Lydia Volcheck, with audio-visual material as an audition and received a formal invitation from Prof Mikhail Gantvarg, Rector of the St Petersburg Rimsky Korsakov Conservatoire, in May 2013. Jan Moritz Onken (who was appointed as the OSMC chief conductor and artistic director for 2012) prepared the ensemble with vigour and discipline. Experienced international OSM alumni and several young international professionals served as mentors throughout the year preceding the event.

The OSMC gave two recitals during the festival – a gala performance in the Glazunov Hall, as well as a concert in the St Petersburg White Hall. For the first concert on 7 November (entitled FOUR CONTINENTS FESTIVAL), the OSMC shared the stage with a piano duo from the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music (Katowice, Poland), the String Quartet of the Colburn Conservatory of Music (Los Angeles, USA), as well as an ensemble of Japanese Traditional Instruments from the Tokyo University of the Arts (Japan).

After the last reverberating notes of the performance of the Phantom Waltz (a work commissioned by the OSM from the South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr), a thunderous applause and shouts of bravo exploded! The OSMC responded spontaneously with a kwela improvisation as an encore.

Dagbreek broadcast: http://bit.ly/1evTgR3

 

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