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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

Heritage translates into fashion
2016-09-13

Description: Centre for Africa Studies Tags: Centre for Africa Studies

Vuyo Mbutho, winner of the best dressed
traditional wear, and Palesa Mokubung,
acclaimed fashion designer.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

There is no such thing as overnight success. You need to earn your way to the top through hard work, which is exactly what critically acclaimed fashion designer Palesa Mokubung did.

During the 2016 Heritage Day lecture hosted by the Centre for Africa Studies, entrepreneur, award winner and fashion visionary Mokubung told how she had begun her career with the label Stoned Cherrie. Kroonstad-born Mokubung then formed her own label in 2004 called Mantsho, which is Sesotho for “brutally black”.

A true Mantsho garment can be identified by three elements that describe Mokubung’s knowledge of her craft, namely its confident and effortless silhouette, structure and quirkiness. “I was taught to express myself from a very young age and my job is to give people life through my clothes,” she says.

Under the management and creative leadership of Mokubung, Mantsho has gone on to travel to places such as Greece, India, New York, Jamaica, Nigeria, Botswana, and Senegal showcasing its designs.

Mokubung says she does not look far for inspiration because she lives in such exciting times. “Sometimes the fabrics talk to you and you should listen to them.”

This confident, straight talker with her high standards says that all aspiring fashion designers need to earn their way to the top. “You get over it by getting over it, and by working through it.”

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