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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

New Research in Hebrew Language and Culture
2014-01-17

The newly formed Department of Hebrew at the university is hosting an international conference from 27 to 29 January 2014. The conference has speakers from Israel, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, as well as South Africa, Zambia, Congo and Nigeria. The goal of the conference is to highlight recent research in Hebrew language and culture by bringing international scholarship to the university and by highlighting the importance of the African context as a conceptual space for research on Hebrew. The rich cultural heritage of Hebrew finds particular resonance in Africa through the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

Some highlights from the conference include new research on the use of the ancient Hebrew script by Jews in the Persian and Roman periods as a means to maintain their religious and ethnic identity in times of distress, linguistic research on metaphors in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Jews and non-Jews in the Hebrew and Yiddish writings of the South African author Morris Hoffman, the development of a rabbinic prayer for rain in the land of Israel and in South Africa, pedagogical advances in teaching Hebrew in Africa, and translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as a means of reshaping VaTsonga cultural identity. 

The study of ancient and modern Hebrew language and culture provides important insights into the complex cultural situation in modern Africa, generally, and South Africa, in particular. The use of language by minority religious and ethnic groups can provide a powerful force for identity in turbulent political realities. Religious texts can be re-contextualised to provide guidance in new cultural contexts or translated to enhance and empower local societies. 

Venue: CR Swart Auditorium 

For more information, contact Prof Cynthia Miller-Naudé, Head of the Department of Hebrew at millercl@ufs.ac.za
 
 

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