Humanities › History & Culture Who Are Africa's Nobel Prize Winners? Share Flipboard Email Print FlickrVision / Getty Images History & Culture African History Key Events American History African American History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Angela Thompsell Professor of British and African History Ph.D., History, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor M.A., History, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor B.A./B.S, History and Zoology, University of Florida Angela Thompsell, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of British and African History at SUNY Brockport. our editorial process Angela Thompsell Updated January 02, 2020 25 Nobel Laureates have been born in Africa. Of those, 10 have been from South Africa, and another six were born in Egypt. The other countries to have produced a Nobel Laureate are (French) Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, and Nigeria. Scroll down for a full list of winners. The Early Winners The first person from Africa to win a Nobel Prize was Max Theiler, a South African man who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951. Six years later, the famed absurdist philosopher and author Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Camus was French, and so many people assume he was born in France, but he was in fact born, raised, and educated in French Algeria. Both Theiler and Camus had emigrated out of Africa at the time of their awards, however, making Albert Lutuli the first person to be awarded a Nobel Prize for work completed in Africa. At the time, Lutuli (who was born in Southern Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe) was the President of the African National Congress in South Africa and was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize for his role leading the non-violent campaign against apartheid. Africa’s Brain Drain Like Theiler and Camus, many African Nobel Laureates have emigrated from their countries of birth and spent most of their working careers in Europe or the United States. As of 2014, not one African Nobel Laureate has been affiliated with an African research institution at the time of their award as determined by the Nobel Prize foundation. (Those winning awards in Peace and Literature are not typically affiliated with such institutions. Many winners in those fields were residing and working in Africa at the time of their award.) These men and women provide a clear example of the much-discussed brain drain from Africa. Intellectuals with promising research careers frequently end up living and working at better-funded research institutions beyond Africa’s shores. This is largely a question of economics and the power of institutions’ reputations. Unfortunately, it is hard to compete with names like Harvard or Cambridge, or the facilities and intellectual stimulation that institutions like these can offer. Female Laureates Including the 2014 awardees, there have been 889 total Nobel Laureates, meaning that individuals from Africa make up only about 3% of Nobel Prize winners. Of the 46 women to ever win a Nobel Prize, however, five have been from Africa, making 11% of female awardees African. Three of those awards were Peace Prizes, while one was in Literature and one in Chemistry. African Noble Prize Winners 1951 Max Theiler, Physiology or Medicine1957 Albert Camus, Literature1960 Albert Lutuli, Peace1964 Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Chemistry1978 Anwar El Sadat, Peace1979 Allan M. Cormack, Physiology or Medicine1984 Desmond Tutu, Peace1985 Claude Simon, Literature1986 Wole Soyinka, Literature1988 Naguib Mahfouz, Literature1991 Nadine Gordimer, Literature1993 F.W. de Klerk, Peace1993 Nelson Mandela, Peace1994 Yassir Arafat, Peace1997 Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Physics1999 Ahmed Zewail, Chemistry2001 Kofi Annan, Peace2002 Sydney Brenner, Physiology or Medicine2003 J. M. Coetzee, Literature2004 Wangari Maathai, Peace2005 Mohamed El Baradei, Peace2011 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Peace2011 Leymah Gbowee, Peace2012 Serge Haroche, Physics2013 Michael Levitt, Chemistry Sources “Nobel Prizes and Laureates”, “Nobel Laureates and Research Affiliations”, and “Nobel Laureates and Country of Birth” all from Nobelprize.org, Nobel Media AB, 2014.