African Nobel Prize Winners

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Between 1901 and 2020, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 603 times to 962 people and organizations. With some receiving the Nobel Prize more than once, this makes a total of 930 individuals and 25 organizations. Out of this numbers, Africa has a total of 23 laureates.

African Nobel Prize Winners By Country

African Nobel Prize Winners By Country

With 11 Nobel prize winners, South Africa has the highest number of Laureates in Africa, followed by Egypt with 4 and Liberia with 2. Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tunisia, and Congo Democratic Republic all have one each.

The list below ranks African Nobel Price winners By their countries as stated by the Nobel Prize committee on its website. The list does not distinguish between laureates who received a full prize and the majority who shared a prize.

South Africa

1. Michael Levitt

Nobel Prize: Chemistry
Year: 2013

Michael Levitt is a South African-born Jewish biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University, a position he has held since 1987. Levitt received the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, together with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel, for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”.

2. J. M. Coetzee

Nobel Prize: Literature
Year: 2003

John Maxwell Coetzee is a South African-born novelist, essayist, linguist, translator and recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is one of the most critically acclaimed and decorated authors in the English language.

3. Sydney Brenner

Nobel Prize: Physiology or Medicine
Year: 2002

Sydney Brenner was a South African biologist. In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with H. Robert Horvitz and Sir John E. Sulston.

4. F. W. de Klerk

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 1993

Frederik Willem de Klerk OMG DMS is a retired South African politician, who served as State President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994 and as Deputy President from 1994 to 1996.
He has been the recipient of many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, earning wide praise for dismantling apartheid and bringing universal suffrage to South Africa.

5. Nelson Mandela

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 1993

African Nobel Prize Winners

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, statesman and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.
Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

6. Nadine Gordimer

Nobel Prize: Literature
Year: 1991

Nadine Gordimer was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a writer “who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”.

7. Desmond Tutu

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 1984

African Nobel Prize Winners By country

Desmond Mpilo Tutu OMSG CH GCStJ is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was widely popular among South Africa’s black majority, and was internationally praised for his anti-apartheid activism, receiving a range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

8. Aaron Klug

Nobel Prize: Chemistry
Year: 1982

Sir Aaron Klug was a Lithuanian-born South African based biophysicist and chemist. He was a winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes.

9. Allan M. Cormack

Nobel Prize: Physiology or Medicine
Year: 1979

Allan MacLeod Cormack was a South African American physicist who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on X-ray computed tomography.

10. Albert Lutuli

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 1960

Albert was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the non-violent struggle against apartheid. He was the first person of African heritage to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

11. Max Theiler

Nobel Prize: Physiology or Medicin
Year: 1951

Max Theiler was a South African-American virologist and physician. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for developing a vaccine against yellow fever in 1937, becoming the first African-born Nobel laureate.

Egypt

1. Mohamed ElBaradei

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 2005

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Mohamed ElBaradei is an Egyptian law scholar and diplomat who served as Vice President of Egypt on an interim basis from 14 July 2013 until his resignation on 14 August 2013.

He was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organization under the auspices of the United Nations, from 1997 to 2009.

He and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for their “efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, is used in the safest possible way.” ElBaradei donated all of his winnings to building orphanages in Cairo.

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2. Ahmed Zewail

Nobel Prize: Chemistry
Year: 1988

African Nobel Prize winners By country

Ahmed Hassan Zewail was an Egyptian chemist, known as the “father of femtochemistry”. He was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry and became the first Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field.

3. Naguib Mahfouz

Nobel Prize: Literature
Year: 1988

Naguib Mahfouz was an Egyptian writer who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic literature, along with Taha Hussein, to explore themes of existentialism.

4. Anwar Sadat

Nobel Prize: Peace,
Year: 1978

Anwar engaged in negotiations with Israel, culminating in the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty; this won him and Menachem Begin the Nobel Peace Prize, making Sadat the first Muslim Nobel laureate.

Liberia

1. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 2011

Africans who have won the Nobel Prize

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born Ellen Eugenia Johnson, 29 October 1938) is a Liberian politician who served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018.

Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa. She was the first woman in Africa elected as president of her country.

Ellen Johnson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, in recognition of her efforts to bring women into the peacekeeping process.

2. Leymah Gbowee

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 2011

Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women’s nonviolent peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
The crowning honor came in October 2011 when the Norwegian Nobel Committee made Gbowee one of three female recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

Ethiopia

1. Abiy Ahmed Ali

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 2018

African Nobel Prize Winners By country

Abiy Ahmed Ali is an Ethiopian politician serving as 4th Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia since 2 April 2018.

He won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending the 20-year post-war territorial stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Ghana

1. Kofi Annan

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 2001

Kofi Atta Annan was a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

Kenya

1. Wangari Maathai

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 2004

African Nobel Prize winners By country

Wangarĩ Maathai was a Kenyan social, environmental, and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nigeria

1. Wole Soyinka

Nobel Prize: Literature
Year: 1986

African Nobel Prize Winners

Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka, known as Wole Soyinka, is a Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist in the English language. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category.

Congo, Democratic Republic

1. Denis Mukwege

Nobel Prize: Peace
Year: 2018

Denis Mukwege is a Congolese gynecologist and Pentecostal pastor. He founded and works in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been raped by armed rebels.

In 2018, Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

Tunisia

1. Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet

Nobel Prize: Peace,
Year: 2015

The quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 following a political crisis that halted the constitutional process. As a result of the Quartet’s success in bringing the Ennahda-led government to see negotiations through and producing a historic constitution, on 9 October 2015, the quartet was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.



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Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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