List of African Nobel laureates

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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]

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.

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]

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.


Year Image Name Country Category Comment
1951 Max Theiler nobel.jpg Max Theiler  South Africa Physiology or Medicine First White African to win a Nobel Prize
1957 Albert Camus, gagnant de prix Nobel, portrait en buste, posé au bureau, faisant face à gauche, cigarette de tabagisme.jpg Albert Camus  France (born in Algeria) Literature First White African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature
1960 Albert Lutuli nobel.jpg Albert Luthuli  South Africa Peace First Black African to win a Nobel Prize
1978 Anwar Sadat cropped.jpg Anwar El Sadat  Egypt First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize
1979 Nobel prize medal grey.png Allan M. Cormack  South Africa Physiology or Medicine
1982 Aaron Klug 1979.jpg Aaron Klug Chemistry
1984 Desmond Tutu (47327456801) (cropped and adjusted).jpg Desmond Tutu Peace
1985 Claude Simon 1967.jpg Claude Simon  France (born in Madagascar) Literature
1986 Soyinka, Wole (1934).jpg Wole Soyinka  Nigeria First Black African person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature[4]
1988 Necip Mahfuz.jpg Naguib Mahfouz  Egypt First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature
1991 Nadine Gordimer 01.JPG Nadine Gordimer  South Africa First White African woman to win a Nobel Prize
1993 Nelson Mandela 1994 (2).jpg Nelson Mandela Peace
1993 F. W. de Klerk 2012.jpg F. W. de Klerk
1997 Claude Cohen-Tannoudji.JPG Claude Cohen-Tannoudji  France (born in Algeria) Physics
1999 Ahmed Zewail (2010).jpg Ahmed Zewail  Egypt Chemistry First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
2001 Kofi Annan.jpg Kofi Annan  Ghana Peace
2002 Sydney Brenner OIST 2008 (33208371153) (cropped).jpg Sydney Brenner  South Africa Physiology or Medicine
2003 J.M. Coetzee.JPG J. M. Coetzee Literature
2004 Wangari Matthai 2001 (cropped).jpg Wangari Maathai  Kenya Peace First Black African woman to win a Nobel Prize
2005 Mohamed ElBaradei.jpg Mohamed ElBaradei  Egypt
2008 Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio-press conference Dec 06th, 2008-9 (cropped).jpg J. M. G. Le Clézio  Mauritius (born in France) Literature
2011 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, April 2010.jpg Ellen Johnson Sirleaf  Liberia Peace
2011 Leymah-gbowee-at-emu-press-conference.jpg Leymah Gbowee
2012 Serge Haroche (50367963357).jpg Serge Haroche  France (born in Morocco) Physics
2013 DIMG 7539 (11253383215).jpg Michael Levitt  South Africa Chemistry
2015 Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet Visit to Vienna March 2016 (24747151924).jpg Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet  Tunisia Peace
2018 Denis Mukwege par Claude Truong-Ngoc novembre 2014.jpg Denis Mukwege  Democratic Republic of the Congo
Abiy Ahmed during state visit of Reuven Rivlin to Ethiopia, May 2018.jpg
Abiy Ahmed  Ethiopia Peace
AbulrazakGurnahHebronPanel (cropped).jpg
Abdulrazak Gurnah  Tanzania Literature


  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. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Wole Soyinka Biography".