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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

UFS Library book launch programme fosters dialogue between students and authors
2017-03-30

Description: Library book launch 2017 Tags: Library book launch 2017

The University of the Free State (UFS) Sasol Library has hosted a series of book launches since 2016, bringing to the Bloemfontein Campus various new and seasoned authors who share their stories with the campus audiences. The Launch Your Book at the Library Programme hosted two authors on 23 March 2017, Itumeleng Sekhu and Marcia Ramodike. Both authors spoke about their life-changing experiences and shared their heart-wrenching stories, filled with courage and hope. 

“Libraries must take the lead in creating dialogue, expression of ideas and inculcating a culture of reading and writing. This programme was also established to bridge the gap and find ways to encourage students to read and write, by creating a platform where they can interact with authors and see that people who write books are ordinary people with real stories to tell,” said Marcus Maphile, Assistant Director: Library Marketing and Community Engagement.

Speaking about her book, Itumeleng Sekhu described her experiences from childhood and her life as a disabled person after being severely burnt in a fire accident in her home as a baby.  She said: “I tried to commit suicide several times because I had lost hope. Eventually after failing to do so, I realised at some point that it was time for me to let my light shine through.” She wrote her book, titled What Do You See?, which has received substantial media coverage, to encourage others who live with painful experiences, disabilities and what she terms “internal wounds”, hoping that her experiences could help to heal them.

Marcia Ramodike’s book, An Empty Pride to a Full Price, paints a picture of her life as a youth grappling with adult issues. She describes her pain after her mother’s death, and her constant battle with the legacy of the difficult socio-economic conditions she grew up in. When students asked Ramodike what she thought the right time was to write a book, she responded, “today is the right time to write your story”.

The UFS Library has hosted 16 book launches since 2016, with the biggest being the launch of Zubeida Jaffer’s book Beauty of the Heart. The programme aims to provide access to information and to share and debate ideas in support of democracy and freedom of speech.

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