When compared with other countries, South African Nobel prize winners are few. Nonetheless, South Africans are proud of them all.
In particular, the Nobel Peace Prize winners are honored by statues at Nobel Square (located at the V&A Waterfront).
From the most recent to oldest South African Nobel prize winners:
South African Nobel prize winners 1951 to present
Michael Levitt – 2013, Chemistry
Michael Levitt was recognized for his efforts in “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”. Mr. Levitt’s molecular research has become pioneering source material for the next generation of scientists.
John Maxwell Coetzee, 2003 – Literature
Mr. Coetzee is a novelist, essayist, linguist, and translator. He has written dozens of acclaimed essays, books, and critiques. This includes the following Booker Prize-winning books:
- Life & Times of Michael K (1983)
- Disgrace (1999)
Sydney Brenner, 2002 – Medicine
Working on molecular biology, Mr. Brenner has made significant contributions to work on genetic code. He was part of the team that created the very first computer matrix analysis of nucleic acids. He has helped map the fabric of human DNA.
Frederik Willem De Klerk, 1993 – Peace
FW De Klerk was the last president of Apartheid South Africa. He and the apartheid government were forced to dismantle the system of apartheid. Along with Nelson Mandela, he is credited for his work on the peaceful termination of apartheid, and laying the foundations for a new democratic country.
NELSON MANDELA, 1993 – Peace
Nelson Mandela, aka Madiba, was instrumental in negotiating the end of apartheid. He helped to orchestrate South Africa’s first democratic elections. Mr. Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize along with FW De Klerk.
NADINE GORDIMER, 1991, Literature
Nadine Gordimer was a writer, political activist, and active ANC member. She was also a close friend of Nelson Mandela. She was described by Alfred Nobel as “being a great benefit to humanity.” Some of her books include:
- July’s people;
- The pickup;
- Burger’s daughter;
- My son’s story;
- The house gun;
- The conservationist;
- None to accompany me;
- Get a life;
- No time like the present;
- Beethoven was one sixteenth black;
- Something out there;
- Life times;
- A guest of honour;
- A world of strangers;
- A soldier’s embrace;
- Telling times;
- The late bourgeois world;
- Occasion for loving;
- The lying days;
- Living in home and history, and more.
DESMOND TUTU, 1984 -Peace
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was recognized for his tireless efforts to end the apartheid regime. Archbishop Tutu had lobbied many governments and world leaders, including Ronald Reagan (USA).
Aaron Klug, 1982 – Chemistry
Mr. Klug has revolutionized science and our understanding of how atoms are arranged in solid matter. It is his work with electron microscopes that have earned him a Nobel prize for chemistry.
Alan Mcleod Cormack, 1979 – Physiology or Medicine
Dr. Allan Cormack was recognized for his role in the development of computer-assisted tomography. He played an integral role in the development of CT scanning technology.
Albert Luthuli, 1960 – Peace
From 1952 to 1967, Albert Luthuli led the ANC (political party in South Africa). He was recognized for his non-violent resistance towards the apartheid regime.
Max Theiler, 1951 – Physiology or Medicine
Dr. Theiler successfully developed a vaccine to combat yellow fever. He is the first African-born Nobel prize winner.