South Africa is world renowned for its biodiversity and many have recognized that its botanical wealth presents with unique opportunities for conservation and commercialization which can drive economic development. It is a country with many varied indigenous knowledge systems. Having developed within a hyper-diverse floral region, the various practices for utilization of medicinal plants have led to a wide range of ethnic pharmacopeias which are uniquely South African in character. There is certainly enormous scope for this indigenous knowledge combined with the many medicinal plants to contribute both to human health at both locally and at the global level. Through a historical account, this talk will relate how the different cultural practices of the exploitation of plants for health likely arose in southern Africa. Thereafter, by using various examples of indigenous and endemic plant species, Dr. Makunga will explore how biotechnologies are integral to our better understanding of these plants and their unique phytochemistry. Finally, the ways in which such approaches can add a new value to traditional plant knowledge and its custodians will be discussed.
This lecture series will take place entirely online, with a new speaker on the second Wednesday of the month from October 2020 to September 2021.
Our Scientist Lecture Series this year was inspired by Black Botanists Week, a Twitter campaign that took place in July 2020, “to promote, encourage, create a safe space for, and find more Black people who love plants.”
This 11-part lecture series will cover a broad range of botanical disciplines, delve into the historical legacy of formally trained and self-taught Black Botanists who inspired others to pursue a career in plants, and highlight pathways toward diversity and inclusion in botanical sciences. With this series, the organizers and contributors seek to shine a light on the Black roots within botany, foster a community of Black Botanists, show that diversity is found within this community, and inspire others who may not have considered Botany as a career choice.