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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

Gendered violence and women’s citizenship in Africa
2014-05-23

 
Prof Takyiwaa Manuh

Prof Takyiwaa Manuh celebrated both Africa Day and her birthday with the UFS on 22 May 2014.

Being the guest speaker at the Africa Day Memorial Lecture, Prof Manuh discussed how gendered violence and the lack of women’s true citizenship in Africa still hinder the Pan-African ideal. She asked the question: if African issues get less worldwide attention, how much less attention do African women get?

“Africa Day offers us an opportunity to revisit the Pan-African ideal and aspiration for total national liberation, equality and self-worth,” Prof Manuh said.

“This ideal has envisaged full citizenship with the enjoyment of rights and resources for the people of Africa to live a dignified and fulfilling life. Yet, the conceptions of citizenship that have emerged in several African countries do not fully incorporate women and girls.”

The lecture explored the policing of women’s bodies and sexualities and how their enjoyment of rights is undermined – often under the pretext of culture. Often families, communities, states, religious bodies and culture work collaboratively to mold African women into the patriarchal image of disciplined and virtuous. The epidemic of violence against females negates their fundamental human rights and their claim to full citizenship and protection within their states.

The lecture also reviewed recent efforts including law reform, legislation and actions by activists. “The African Union and the UN need to confront these violations and suggest a robust agenda for more effective exercise of women’s citizenship rights and convergence towards the Pan-African ideal.”

Prof Manuh is currently Director: Social Development Policy Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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