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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

Cohesions and Disruptions Forum
2014-07-15

 
The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the UFS and the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, in partnership with the Vryfees, co-presented an artist and academic forum on 18 July 2014.

The forum, ‘Cohesions and Disruptions: Art as a Key to Transformation’, was aptly timed to coincide with Mandela Day. This event formed part of the transformation strategy of the Vryfees arts festival, aiming to support more diversity and cross-cultural, contemporary art programmes.

“Cohesions and Disruptions is part of the new Program for Innovation in Artform Development (PIKO/PIAD),” said Adri Herbert, Director of the Vryfees. “This includes both the cross-cultural OPENLab 2014, a new Australian/South African laboratory for early and mid-career South African artists, and a partnership with the Australian based SituateArt in Festivals initiative, managed by Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart, Tasmania.”

The forum’s keynote speaker was Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin. She is a Narungga, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman from South Australia and Victoria respectively. She is well known throughout the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands and broader arts communities. Buckskin’s presentation was titled ‘Building Young Indigenous People’s Lives through Art and Culture in Remote Central Australia.’

Buckskin spoke broadly about her involvement with youngsters – often poverty stricken and sniffing petrol – in remote areas of Australia. She explained how the arts have given the youth a chance at rehabilitation and hope for the future.

After her presentation, she was joined by Dr Willy Nel, lecturer at the UFS School of Education Studies. Dr Nel completed his PhD among the Khomani San in the Kalahari. 

Other forum speakers who presented their work included:
Dr Mari Velonaki, Director of the Centre for Social Robotics at the National Institute for Experimental Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney;
Dr Nigel Helyer of Sonic Objects; Sonic Architecture, Sydney;
Bec Dean, Curator at Performance Space, Sydney;
Jesse Olivieri, co-founder of Parachutes for Ladies in Sydney; and
Cigdem Aydemir, Vryfees visual artist for 2014.

“Given the histories and present experiences of human rights violations and racial discrimination that indigenous people in Australia and South Africa are subjected to, we are particularly honoured to have Lee-Ann (Buckskin) as a guest speaker,” said Prof Andre Keet, Director of the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice. 


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