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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

OSM Camerata records CD with world-renowned cellist
2014-05-14

In 2010, South African cellist Heleen du Plessis, Executant lecturer for cello at the University of Otago, initiated the project “Cello for Africa”. The objective was to record a CD of new South African compositions for cello, reflecting the multi-cultural context of the country.

Du Plessis received an extensive research grant from the University of Otago in order to realise the project by commissioning, premièring and recording music. The aim was to facilitate a dialogue between Western and African musical traditions, as well as between the cello and indigenous African instruments.

Hans Huyssen, composer and cellist, has been closely involved in indigenous African music for a considerable time. In light of his extensive international experience, the SAMRO Foundation has granted Du Plessis' request to commission Huyssen to this task.

A world premiere concert preceded the recordings at the UFS’ Odeion School of Music (OSM) in March 2013, partially funded by a Humanities Research Grant as well as the OSM. This event provided a collaborative platform for musicians from different cultural backgrounds and several institutions to contribute towards a cultural and musical exchange. The funding enabled the project to successfully conclude in the recording of the CD, “Cello for Africa”. It was released by ODE records – the New Zealand label for classical music.

The OSM Camerata (OSMC) is the flagship ensemble of the OSM and was founded in 2012 with the main objective to kindle and forge the talents of exceptionally gifted students and pursue the highest artistic standards possible.

The OSMC participated in 2013 in the 13th International Conservatoire Festival hosted at the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatoire in St Petersburg, Russia. The OSMC received a standing ovation during their gala performance in the Glazonov Hall with a programme by South African composers Stefans Grové and Hendrik Hofmeyr.

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