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South African Nobel Prize Winners 1951 to present

Nobel square cape town south africa
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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.

Michael Levitt
South African nobel prize winners - John Maxwell Coetzee

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:

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.

South African Nobel prize winners Sydney Brenner
FW De Klerk

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. 

Nelson Mandela quotes
South African nobel prize winners

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:

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).

Desmond Tutu quotes
Aaron Klug

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. 

Allan Mcleod Cormack
Albert Luthuli South African nobel prize winners

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.

Max Theiler

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Hi! We’re the Cheltens’. We visit South Africa 1-2 times per year. We want to share our experiences with you so that you may make educated decisions when you plan your next trip to the rainbow nation.

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