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 Camus, AlbertAlbert Camus  France (born in Algeria) Literature
1960 Albert Lutuli nobel.jpg Luthuli, AlbertAlbert Luthuli  South Africa Peace First Black African to win a Nobel Prize
1978 Anwar Sadat cropped.jpg Sadat, Anwar ElAnwar El Sadat  Egypt Peace First Afro-Arab to win a Nobel Prize
1979 Allan M. Cormack  South Africa Physiology or Medicine
1982 Aaron Klug 1979.jpg Aaron Klug  South Africa Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1984 75px Tutu, DesmondDesmond Tutu  South Africa Peace
1985 Claude Simon 1967.jpg Claude Simon  France (born in Madagascar) Literature
1986 Soyinka, Wole (1934).jpg Soyinka, WoleWole Soyinka  Nigeria Literature First Black African person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature[4]
1988 Necip Mahfuz.jpg Naguib Mahfouz  Egypt Literature First North African Arab to win a Nobel Prize
1991 Nadine Gordimer 01.JPG Nadine Gordimer  South Africa Literature First White African woman to win a Nobel Prize
1993 Nelson Mandela-2008 (edit).jpg Mandela, NelsonNelson Mandela  South Africa Peace
1993 F. W. de Klerk 2012.jpg Frederik Willem de Klerk  South Africa Peace
1997 Claude Cohen-Tannoudji.JPG Claude Cohen-Tannoudji  France (born in Algeria) Physics
1999 Ahmed Zewail.jpg Ahmed Zewail  Egypt Chemistry
2001 Kofi Annan.jpg Annan, KofiKofi Annan  Ghana Peace
2002 Sydney Brenner  South Africa Physiology or Medicine
2003 J.M. Coetzee.JPG J. M. Coetzee  South Africa Literature
2004 75px Maathai, WangariWangari Maathai  Kenya Peace First black African woman to win a Nobel Prize
2005 Mohamed ElBaradei.jpg Mohamed ElBaradei  Egypt Peace
2011 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, April 2010.jpg Johnson Sirleaf, EllenEllen Johnson Sirleaf  Liberia Peace
2011 Leymah-gbowee-at-emu-press-conference.jpg Gbowee, LeymahLeymah Gbowee  Liberia Peace


  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Biography of Nelson Mandela". Nelson Mandela Foundation. Retrieved 8 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Wole Soyinka Biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>