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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

Stanford University hosts book launch for UFS Prestige Scholar
2015-12-14

Dr Christian Williams, a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme, had his book launched by Stanford University. The book called National Liberation in Postcolonial Southern Africa: A Historical Ethnography of SWAPO’s Exile Camps will be available in South Africa early in 2016.
Photo: Sonia Small

A launch for the much-anticipated book by Dr Christian Williams from the University of the Free State (UFS) was sponsored by the Humanities Center and the Center for African Studies of Stanford University in the USA, among others.

The launch of the book, National Liberation in Postcolonial Southern Africa: A Historical Ethnography of SWAPO’s Exile Camps, coincided with the 40th anniversary of Angola’s independence.

The book was published by Cambridge University Press in September 2015, and the launch at Stanford was on 16 November 2015.

This groundbreaking study, which will be available in South Africa early next year, has already been lauded for its invaluable contribution and the depth of its scholarship. The author is a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology of the UFS, and member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP). He is a former Fulbright scholar, and holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan in History and Anthropology.

National Liberation in Postcolonial Southern Africa follows members of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) through three decades of exile in Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola.

It highlights how different Namibians experienced exile, as well as the tensions that developed within SWAPO as Namibians encountered one another while officials asserted their power and protected their interests.

It also follows the return of Namibians who lived in exile to post-colonial Namibia, examining the extent to which divisions and hierarchies that emerged in the camps still continue to shape Namibians today.

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