List of African Nobel laureates

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   South Africa Physiology or Medicine First White African to win a Nobel Prize
1957   Albert Camus   France (born in Algeria) Literature First White African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature
1960   Albert Luthuli   South Africa Peace First Black African to win a Nobel Prize
1978   Anwar El Sadat   Egypt First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize
1979   Allan M. Cormack   South Africa Physiology or Medicine
1982   Aaron Klug Chemistry
1984   Desmond Tutu Peace
1985   Claude Simon   France (born in Madagascar) Literature
1986   Wole Soyinka   Nigeria First Black African person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature[4]
1988   Naguib Mahfouz   Egypt First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize in Literature
1991   Nadine Gordimer   South Africa First White African woman to win a Nobel Prize
1993   Nelson Mandela Peace
1993   F. W. de Klerk
1997   Claude Cohen-Tannoudji   France (born in Algeria) Physics
1999   Ahmed Zewail   Egypt Chemistry First Egyptian and North African to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
2001   Kofi Annan   Ghana Peace
2002   Sydney Brenner   South Africa Physiology or Medicine
2003   J. M. Coetzee Literature
2004   Wangari Maathai   Kenya Peace First black African woman to win a Nobel Prize
2005   Mohamed ElBaradei   Egypt
2011   Ellen Johnson Sirleaf   Liberia
2011   Leymah Gbowee
2018   Denis Mukwege   Democratic Republic of the Congo
2019   Abiy Ahmed   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".