List of African scientists, inventors, and scholars

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

North African[edit]

  • Imhotep fl. 2667–2611 BC, an Egyptian polymath
  • Euclid, a Greek mathematician active in Hellenistic Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I (323–283 BC).
  • Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), an Egyptian jurist, religious scholar and liberal reformer, regarded as the founder of Islamic Modernism.
  • Abū Kāmil Shujā ibn Aslam
  • Sameera Moussa (1917–1952), an Egyptian nuclear scientist.
  • Al-Jahiz (781 – 868/869), an Afro-Arab scholar of East African descent.
  • Arius (AD ca. 250 or 256 – 336), a Christian priest from Alexandria, Egypt.
  • Saint Cyprian (died September 14, 258), was bishop of Carthage and early Christian writer.
  • Abbas Ibn Firnas
  • Nur ad-Din al-Betrugi
  • Tertullian (ca. 160 – ca. 220 A.D.), a Christian Berber author and writer of Christian Latin literature.
  • Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430), a Bishop of Hippo Regius and Romanized Berber philosopher and theologian.
  • Al-Idrisi (1100–1165 or 1166), an Andalusian geographer, cartographer, Egyptologist and traveller.
  • Al-Suyuti (c. 1445–1505 AD), an Egyptian writer, religious scholar, juristic expert and teacher.
  • Muhammad al-Maghili (died c. 1505), an Islamic scholar from Tlemcen in modern-day Algeria.
  • Ahmed Zewail (1946-2016), Egyptian-American scientist, awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • Rachid Yazami (1953-), French Moroccan scientist best known for his research on lithium ion batteries.

Sub-Saharan African[edit]


  • Ibrahim Njoya, a Cameroonian King 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 famous semi-syllabic script known to the world today.


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



  • Wangari Maathai, (b. 1940), a Kenyan environmental and political activist who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Thomas R. Odhiambo (1931–2003), a Kenyan entomologist and environmental activist.
  • Henry Odera Oruka, (b.1944), Kenyan philosopher known for Sage philosophy project started in the 1970s.


  • Mohammed Bagayogo (1523–1593), an eminent scholar from Timbuktu, Mali.
  • Modibo Mohammed Al Kaburi a scholar, Cadi and Jurist, and university professor, from Timbuktu, Mali.
  • Cheick Modibo Diarra, (b. 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), a medieval West African writer, scholar, and political provocateur.


  • Wole Soyinka, is a Nigerian playwright and poet. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be honored in that category. The Wole Soyinka Lecture Annual Lecture Series was founded in 1994 and is dedicated to honouring one of Nigeria and Africa's most outstanding and enduring literary icons.
  • Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor and critic. Author of highest selling book in modern African literature, Things Fall Apart. He is often referred to as the father of modern African literature.
  • John Ogbu (1939–2003), a Nigerian-American anthropologist and university professor.
  • Seyi Oyesola, a Nigerian doctor, who co-invented hospital in a box.
  • Bisi Ezerioha, (b. 1972), a Nigerian engineer, racer and former pharmaceutical executive who has built some of the world's most powerful Honda and Porsche engines.


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

South African[edit]

  • Thebe Medupe (b. 1973), a South African astrophysicist and founding director of Astronomy Africa.
  • Allan McLeod Cormack (1924–1998), a South African-born American physicist, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • Aaron Klug, (b. 1926), a 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.
  • Sydney Brenner (b. 1927), a South African biologist, who won the 2002 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • Christiaan Barnard (1922–2001), a South African cardiac surgeon, who performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant.
  • Mark Shuttleworth (b. 1973), a South African entrepreneur.
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (b. 1971), a South African scientist and inventor.
  • Himla Soodyall, a South African human geneticist, known for genetic research into the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Neil Toruk, a South African astrophysicist and director of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
  • Trefor Jenkins, a human geneticist from South Africa, noted for his work on DNA.
  • Andries Van Aarde professor of theology at University of Pretoria.
  • Azwinndini Muronga professor of physics and dean of science.


  • Mo Ibrahim, (b. 1946), a Sudanese-born British mobile communications entrepreneur.


  • Felix A. Chami, an archaeologist and university professor from Tanzania.