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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

Music builds bridges - Diva Mimi Coertse
2004-09-21

Music is not bounded by colour, religion, politics or time. It builds bridges. It reaches out to people’s hearts and feelings. Everyone understands the language of music. These were the words of the opera and chamber music diva, Mimi Coertse, who delivered the 34th C.R. Swart Memorial Lecture of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Free State. The theme of her lecture was Music as international language. Ms. Coertse said there are no boundaries to music. Different from the spoken word in drama, music can be understood by everyone. There are no boundaries in classical music – and specifically in opera. Developed nations adopted the Eurocentric art form as part of their culture. Examples are China, Korea and Japan where classical music became part of these counties’ national culture, she said. “Unfortunately, however, classical music is seen in many instances – and even in our country – as Eurocentric, but that is not the case. When you start analysing it, you will notice that our black choirs specifically sing opera in choir competitions. These choir competitions became a major industry. These choirs prefer to sing opera.” Ms. Coertse said music brings joy, pleasure, relaxations and healing. It moves into the inner chambers of people’s hearts. You cannot swear at someone in music of curse the. Music is sensual, emotional and very spiritual. God is the writer, man just the player.

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