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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

Faculty of Theology hosts annual meeting of Society for Practical Theology
2015-01-30

From the left are: Prof Yolanda Dreyer (Chairperson of SPTSA, University of Pretoria), Prof Johann Rossouw (UFS), Prof Hussein Solomon (UFS) and Prof Johan Cilliers (Stellenbosch University).
Photo: Michelle Nothling

The privilege of hosting the annual meeting of the Society for Practical Theology in South Africa (SPTSA) fell to the University of the Free State (UFS) this year. Delegates from across the country recently convened on the Bloemfontein Campus to attend the event from 21 – 23 January 2015.

The three-day congress saw several high-profile keynote speakers discussing the topic of ‘Power of religion and religions of power’.

Dr Johann Rossouw from the UFS Department of Philosophy presented a paper on ‘Power, the state and the church in South Africa’. Dr Rossouw regards the cooperation between theologians and philosophers as integral to help us understand the time we live in. Twenty years since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, “the gap between the country we were promised and the country we received is bigger than ever,” Dr Rossouw said. “A South-African Church … cannot but make her voice heard regarding this gap.”

Expert on conflict resolution and fundamentalism, Prof Hussein Solomon from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance scrutinised the compatibility of Islam with democracy. He warned, though, against “the labelling of a conflict as religious on the mere basis of its religious overtones.” Prof Solomon’s paper, ‘Political Islam: trends, trajectory and future prospects,’ not only advocated tolerance and political pluralism, but also pointed to the fact that it is “in the common good of all humanity” to avert a “Clash of Civilizations”.

‘God in granite?’ – Prof Johan Cilliers’ paper – investigated the phenomenon of the monumentalization of religion. Prof Cilliers from Stellenbosch University explained that monuments often have “spiritual character and iconic value, in the sense that it offers a space for the formation or discovery of meaning.” In his presentation he showed, though, that monuments – even those connected to religious motifs – “seldom escape the lure of power”.

The event was organised by the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Theology, Department of Practical Theology.

  

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za .

 

 

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