List of African Nobel laureates

Last updated

The Nobel Prize is an international prize awarded annually since 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded since 1969. [1] Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 800 individuals. [2]

Nobel Prize Set of 6 annual international awards, primarily established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist Alfred Nobel established the five Nobel prizes in 1895. The prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine were first awarded in 1901. The prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards available in their respective fields.

Nobel Prize in Physics One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for mankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation, and awarded by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on proposal of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry which consists of five members elected by Academy. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.

Africans have received awards in five of the six Nobel prize categories: Peace, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Chemistry. The first Black African recipient, Albert Luthuli, was awarded the Peace Prize in 1960 and the first White African who received the prize was Max Theiler in 1951 for Physiology or Medicine. The most recent recipients, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2011.

Max Theiler South African-American virologist and doctor

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.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberian politician and 24th president of Liberia

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 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.

Leymah Gbowee Liberian peace activist

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. Her efforts to end the war, along with her collaborator Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, helped usher in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005 that Sirleaf won. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

A notable recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) the first democratically elected president of South Africa, who played a key role in the repeal of apartheid laws . He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 alongside President F.W. de Klerk [3]

Nelson Mandela President of South Africa, anti-apartheid activist

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, 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. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

F. W. de Klerk South African politician

Frederik Willem de Klerk is a South African politician who served as State President of South Africa from 1989 to 1994 and as Deputy President from 1994 to 1996. As South Africa's last head of state from the era of white-minority rule, he and his government dismantled the apartheid system and introduced universal suffrage. Ideologically a conservative and an economic liberal, he led the National Party from 1989 to 1997.

Two African laureates, Anwar Sadat of Egypt in 1978 and F.W. de Klerk of South Africa in 1993, were presidents of their countries at the time they were awarded the Nobel Prize. Sadat was honored along with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for their efforts to reach a peace agreement between their two countries. DeKlerk was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Nelson Mandela, who led the ANC but was not president of South Africa until 1994.

Anwar Sadat Egyptian president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat was the third President of Egypt, serving from 15 October 1970 until his assassination by fundamentalist army officers on 6 October 1981. Sadat was a senior member of the Free Officers who overthrew King Farouk in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, and a close confidant of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, under whom he served as Vice President twice and whom he succeeded as President in 1970.

Menachem Begin Israeli politician and former Prime Minister

Menachem Begin was an Israeli politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of Israel. Before the creation of the state of Israel, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944, against the British mandatory government, which was opposed by the Jewish Agency. As head of the Irgun, he targeted the British in Palestine. Later, the Irgun fought the Arabs during the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine.


1951 Max Theiler nobel.jpg Max Theiler Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa Physiology or Medicine First White African to win a Nobel Prize
1957 Albert Camus, gagnant de prix Nobel, portrait en buste, pose au bureau, faisant face a gauche, cigarette de tabagisme.jpg Albert Camus Flag of France.svg  France (born in Algeria) Literature First White African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature
1960 Albert Lutuli nobel.jpg Albert Luthuli Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa Peace First Black African to win a Nobel Prize
1978 Anwar Sadat cropped.jpg Anwar El Sadat Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize
1979 Nobel prize medal grey.png Allan M. Cormack Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa Physiology or Medicine
1982 Aaron Klug 1979.jpg Aaron Klug Chemistry
1984 Archbishop-Tutu-medium.jpg Desmond Tutu Peace
1985 Claude Simon 1967.jpg Claude Simon Flag of France.svg  France (born in Madagascar) Literature
1986 Soyinka, Wole (1934).jpg Wole Soyinka Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria First Black African person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature [4]
1988 Necip Mahfuz.jpg Naguib Mahfouz Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature
1991 Nadine Gordimer 01.JPG Nadine Gordimer Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa First White African woman to win a Nobel Prize
1993 Nelson Mandela-2008 (edit).jpg Nelson Mandela Peace
1993 F. W. de Klerk 2012.jpg F. W. de Klerk
1997 Claude Cohen-Tannoudji.JPG Claude Cohen-Tannoudji Flag of France.svg  France (born in Algeria) Physics
1999 Ahmed Zewail (2010).jpg Ahmed Zewail Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt Chemistry First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
2001 Kofi Annan.jpg Kofi Annan Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana Peace
2002 Sydney Brenner OIST 2008 (33208371153) (cropped).jpg Sydney Brenner Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Physiology or Medicine
2003 J.M. Coetzee.JPG J. M. Coetzee Literature
2004 Wangari Maathai portrait by Martin Rowe.jpg Wangari Maathai Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya Peace First black African woman to win a Nobel Prize
2005 Mohamed ElBaradei.jpg Mohamed ElBaradei Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt
2011 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, April 2010.jpg Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Flag of Liberia.svg  Liberia
2011 Leymah-gbowee-at-emu-press-conference.jpg Leymah Gbowee
2018 Denis Mukwege par Claude Truong-Ngoc novembre 2014.jpg Denis Mukwege Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo
2019 PM Abiy Ahmed Ali.jpg Abiy Ahmed Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia


  1. "Nobel Prize" (2007), in Encyclopædia Britannica , accessed 14 November 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
    An additional award, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968 by the Bank of Sweden and was first awarded in 1969
  2. "All Nobel Laureates". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  3. "Biography of Nelson Mandela". Nelson Mandela Foundation. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  4. "Wole Soyinka Biography".