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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

Translation Day Seminar
2007-10-22

Subverting the West? Engaging language practice as African interpretation.

With the above-mentioned title in mind, about 30 people gathered at the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (FS) in Bloemfontein for a Translation Day Seminar. The day was attended by academics, language practitioners, government departments, students, and other stakeholders in language practice.

Prof. Jackie Naudé, the Programme Director for the Programme in Language Practice at the UFS, gave a short historical overview of developments in research and training in language practice of the past decade. He argued in favour of a socio-constructivist approach to teaching and research in language practice. His point was that students need to be given the opportunity to engage with the complexities of real-life problems, specifically the complexities of the African context.

Dr Kobus Marais, Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS, gave an overview of the state of the art of translation research. This meant that language practitioners are agents in communication, not mere conduits of meaning. He argued that translators’ agency implied that they have to make informed choices, the most important of which is whether to indigenise or foreignise when translating. He developed wisdom as a notion in translation, indicating that translators need to be wise to interpret their context and translate in such a way that (Western) ideology does not ride piggy-back on their translations into the African target culture.

Prof. Joan Connoly, Associate Professor in the Centre for Higher Education Development at Durban University of Technology (DUT), took the audience on a breathtaking journey on the topic of oral knowledge. Her presentation showed examples, both European and African oral knowledge and had a clear message for language practitioners: What can Africans learn from the Western mind? Her answer: "Africans can learn how easy it is to loose one’s oral knowledge base. Africans can look at the West and see what the consequences are when a culture loses its oral-based knowledge. Language practitioners have it in their power to consider this possible loss and do something about it."

Lastly, Ms Lolie Makhubu, Head of the Department of Language and Translation at DUT, spoke about enticement in interpreting to use loan words to impress either the audience or peers or clients. Her argument boils down to the interpreter’s attitude towards African culture and language. If Western culture is regarded as higher than African culture, interpreters will be tempted to boast their knowledge of Western culture by means of their choice of words. However, if interpreters are “Proudly South African”, as she put it, they have not need for showing off by using loan words.


 

Dr Kobus Marais (Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS) during the seminar.
Photo (supplied)

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