List of African educators, scientists and scholars

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This is a list of African educators, scientists and scholars who were born or active on the African continent.

North Africa[edit]


  • Imhotep fl. (2667–2611 BC), Egyptian polymath
  • Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), Egyptian jurist, religious scholar and liberal reformer, regarded as the founder of Islamic Modernism.
  • Abū Kāmil Shujā ibn Aslam (c. 850 – c. 930)
  • Sameera Moussa (1917–1952), Egyptian nuclear scientist.
  • Al-Jahiz (781–868/869), Afro-Arab scholar of East African descent.
  • Arius (c. 250/256–336), Christian priest from Alexandria, Egypt.
  • Al-Suyuti (c. 1445–1505), Egyptian writer, religious scholar, juristic expert and teacher.
  • Ahmed Zewail (1946–2016), Egyptian-American scientist, awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • Mahmud Ahmad Hamdi al-Falaki (1815-1885), Egyptian cartographer, teacher, Minister of Public Instruction.
  • Ismail Mustafa al-Falaki (1825–1901), Egyptian astronomer and mathematician.


  • Saint Cyprian (died September 14, 258), was bishop of Carthage and early Christian writer.


  • Aziza Baccouche (1976-), American physicist and filmmaker born and raised in Tunisia




  • Rachid Yazami (1953–), French Moroccan scientist best known for his research on lithium ion batteries.


East Africa[edit]



  • Osman Aden Abdullegeneticist; has studied the Somali blood type and its ethnogenesis; in 1987 he jointly discovered with his colleagues a new Rh gene complex producing the rare Cx (Rh9) antigen in the Somali population
  • Abdusalam Abubakar (1989/90–) – one of the youngest winners of the BT Young Scientist of the Year Award; later went on to win the European Union Contest for Young Scientists for his project, An Extension of Wiener's Attack on RSA
  • Hassan al-Jabarti (d. 1774) – mathematician, theologian, astronomer and philosopher, considered one of the great scholars of the 18th century
  • Amina Said Ali – author, poet, and medical scientist based in Stockholm, Sweden
  • Warsame Ali (1955–) – scientist and assistant professor at Prairie View A&M University, specialized in aerospace technology; previously worked for NASA
  • Ali Said Faqi – scientist and the leading researcher on the design and interpretation of toxicology studies at the MPI research center in Mattawan, Michigan
  • Jama Musse Jama (1967–) – ethnomathematician and author; known for his research on traditional Somali board games such as Shax and the history of mathematics in the Horn of Africa and the founder of Hargeysa Cultural Centre
  • Ahmed Mumin Warfa – scientist, specialized in botany and jointly discovered the Cyclamen somalense, the first genus from tropical Africa with his colleague Mats Thulin; the "world's pre-eminent authority on frankincense"; professor at Salt Lake Community College
  • Shaykh Sufi - popularly known as Sheikh Sufi, was a 19th-century Somali scholar, poet, reformist and astrologist
  • Ahmed Ismail Samatar - is a prominent Somali writer, professor and former dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College. He is the editor of Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, and brother of Abdi Ismail Samatar, chair of the geography department at the University of Minnesota.
  • Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Amawi Al-Amawī was born in the city of Barawa to the Ra Ma'limu clan,[1] where he pursued studies under several well-known scholars, such as Sayyid Abū Bakr al-Miḥḍār al-Ḥaḍramī, Ḥājj ‘Alī b. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, and the North African scholar Sayyid Aḥmad al-Maghribī. Al-Amawī left Barawa for Zanzibar in his teens to study under Muhyi al-Din al-Qahtani, the chief Shāfi‘ī qādī of Zanzibar. Al-Qahtani introduced him to the sultan of Zanzibar, Sayyid Sa'id bin Sultan. In 1854, al-Amawī, who was then only sixteen years old, was appointed by the Sultan as the Qadi (judge) of Kilwa.[2] Al-Amawī was soon transferred to Zanzibar, where he served until 1891, when his son Burhān took the position. Al-Amawī wrote on theology, law, Sufism, grammar, rhetoric, and history, and composed an unfinished Swahili-Arabic dictionary. He also served as a political advisor, ambassador, and diplomat in Somalia, the Comoro islands, the Rovuma River region, and various other places on the African mainland on behalf of two of Zanzibar's sultans, Sayyid Mājid (r. 1856–70) and Sayyid Barghash (r. 1870–88). Abdallah Salih Farsy wrote that al-Amawī became a virtual prime minister during the reign of Sayyid Khalīfa (r. 1888–90).[3] Although Farsy said all of his writings were missing, since 2000 portions of his writings, all unpublished, were located in Dar Es Salaam (copies of which can be found in the Zanzibar National Archives) and in the library of Sayyid Muhammad Āl Bū Sa‘īdī in Seeb, Oman. They include portions of his diaries from two of his six journeys in the Rovuma region, a history of the Bū Saʻīdī dynasty, Sufi and devotional texts, a work on rhetoric, and a theological poem following the doctrines of the Ash‘arite school of Sunni Islam, ‘Iqd al-la’ālī (Necklace of Pearls), with a lengthy commentary, Taqrīb ‘Iqd al-la’ālī ilā fahm al-atfāli . This poem was written in response to a twelfth-century theological poem, Bad’ al-āmāl, written by Sirāj al-Dīn ‘Alī b.‘Uthmān al-Ūshī al-Farghānī, following the doctrines of the Māturidite school of Sunni Islam.

Randall Pouwels writes that al-Amawī’s success as a Sufi shaykh led to many conversions from Ibāḍī Islam (to which the ruling class of Zanzibar belonged) to Sunni Islam, making him an embarrassment to Sayyid Barghash, who banned him from attending Friday prayers at the mosque. According to Pouwels, al-Amawī countered by showing up at the mosque armed, with his followers, forcing the sultan to back down—but not without first imprisoning al-Amawī, although al-Amawī’s popularity forced Barghash to keep his incarceration brief.[4] However, whereas Pouwels presents al-Amawī as a thorn in Barghash’s side and a pest to sultans in general, with the exception of Khalīfa, in a fragment of his writing found in Dar Es Salaam, al-Amawī presents himself consistently as a close counselor and confidant of the sultan. Likewise, in the fragments of his accounts of his journeys to the Rovuma River region on behalf of Sayyid Barghash, found in the Bū Sa‘īdī in Oman, he always describes himself as “a servant of our lord the Sayyid,” ever striving on behalf of the interests of the state.

Although Farsy reports that of all Muslim shaykhs on the coast, al-Amawī was the most skilled at and involved in debating Christian missionaries,[5] it is nonetheless also true that he assisted Bishop Edward Steere, who served in Zanzibar from 1864 until his death in 1882, by helping in the translation of some of the Psalms and the Gospel of Luke into Swahili (Steere 1883; Steere1884: vi–vii; Mojola 2001: 514).[6][7] Steere also wrote that he held weekly meetings with local Muslim shaykhs in his home, and it is likely that al-Amawī was a participant. In one letter he wrote, “Abdul Aziz called and asked for an explanation of the statement that man was made ‘in the image of God,’ which shocked them. I wrote and sent him an explanation in Swahili.” In one of the Dar es Salaam fragments, al-Amawī mentions a debate moderated by Sir Arthur Hardinge that he had with Bishop Chauncy Maples in the Anglican cathedral in Zanzibar. Al-Amawī says that he had known Maples since the days of Bishop Steere, and proceeds to cite the precise hour of Steere’s death—a sign, perhaps, of a close relationship between them.


  • Haile Debas (1937–), Eritrean who achieved national recognition as a gastrointestinal investigator and made original contributions to the physiology, biochemistry, and pathophysiology of gastrointestinal peptide hormones.



  • Venansius Baryamureeba, Ugandan professor of computer science and educationist.
  • Kwatsi Alibaruho, Ugandan-American flight director at NASA.
  • Dr. Ivan Edwards [1] is a Ugandan-American physician and the first Ugandan-American Flight surgeon in the US Air Force Reserve.[2][3] He started a Child Sponsorship Program for displaced orphans in Uganda. [4][5]

West Africa[edit]


  • Ibrahim Njoya (c. 1860 – c. 1933), a ruler of the Bamum people, in what is now western Cameroon credited with developing a semi-syllabic Bamum script which evolved from the rudimentary pictographic script to a more advanced logo graphic script, which he later refined to the semi-syllabic script known to the world today.



  • Mohammed Bagayogo (1523–1593), eminent scholar from Timbuktu, Mali.
  • Modibo Mohammed Al Kaburi, scholar, Cadi and Jurist, and university professor, from Timbuktu, Mali.
  • Cheick Modibo Diarra, (1952–), Malian-born aerospace engineer who contributed to several NASA missions such as Mars Path Finder, the Galileo spacecraft, and the Mars Observer.
  • Ahmad Baba (1556–1627), medieval West African writer, scholar, and political provocateur.



  • Cheikh Anta Diop (1923–1986), a Senegalese historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician.

Southern Africa[edit]

South African[edit]

  • Christiaan Barnard (1922–2001), South African cardiac surgeon, who performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant.
  • Sydney Brenner (1927-2019), South African biologist, who won the 2002 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • Allan McLeod Cormack (1924–1998), South African-born American physicist, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • Mulalo Doyoyo (born 1970), South African professor, engineer and inventor.
  • Trefor Jenkins (born 1932), human geneticist from South Africa, noted for his work on DNA.
  • Aaron Klug (1926-2018), Lithuanian-born British chemist and biophysicist, who won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He moved to South Africa at the age of two and studied at the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Cape Town.
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (born 1971), South African scientist and inventor.
  • Thebe Medupe (born 1973), South African astrophysicist and founding director of Astronomy Africa.
  • Azwinndini Muronga, professor of physics and dean of science.
  • Himla Soodyall (born 1963), South African human geneticist, known for genetic research into the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Andries Van Aarde (born 1951), professor of theology at University of Pretoria.


  • Felix A. Chami, an archaeologist and university professor from Tanzania.
  • Erasto B. Mpemba (born 1950), is a Tanzanian scientist and physicist who discovered the eponymous Mpemba effect, a paradoxical phenomenon in which hot water freezes faster than cold water under certain conditions.

African Diaspora[edit]

List of African-American inventors and scientists


  1. ^ "About Dr. Ivan Edwards". US News & World Report. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Flight Surgeon".
  3. ^ "Lt. Col. Dr. Ivan Edwards | A Special keynote Speaker at the Diaspora Gala 2017 Edition". Ugandan Diaspora. 29 September 2017.
  4. ^ "A Personal Torch Leads To Uganda". The Nashua Telegraph Newspaper. 1 July 1991. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Africa Mission Opened Eyes". Nashua Telegraph. 24 November 1991.
  6. ^ "This Congolese Doctor Discovered Ebola But Never Got Credit For It — Until Now". Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  7. ^ Corti D, Misasi J, Mulangu S, Stanley DA, Kanekiyo M, Wollen S, et al. (March 2016). "Protective monotherapy against lethal Ebola virus infection by a potently neutralizing antibody". Science. 351 (6279): 1339–42.