Africa's Nobel Prize Winners (Part 2)

Africa’s Nobel Prize Winners (Part 2)

Following from our article published on the 17th of this month, we will be focusing on the 2nd part of our journal on the 11 influential African thought leaders that have been awarded the Nobel prize by the Norwegian and Swedish bodies.

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist, engineer and industrialist Alfred Nobel established the five Nobel prizes in 1895. The winner is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, on behalf of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel’s estate and presented to whoever “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

There have been 11 Nobel Laureates (10 and 1 team of 4 Tunisian scientists) since the prize’s inception that have been born in Africa, 10 of which 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. Have a look at the list we have comiled below in chronological order of the 1st five (5) prize winners!

  • 2004 Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and founder of the Green Belt Movement:

“For her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”

The Committee further stated that Professor Maathai “stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally.”

  • 2005 Egypt’s Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, shared with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

“For their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way”

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei was Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from December 1997 until November 2009.

He had been an IAEA staff member from 1984, holding a number of high-level policy positions, including that of Legal Adviser and subsequently Assistant Director General for External Relations. Dr. ElBaradei has received multiple other awards for his work as a public servant and as an advocate of tolerance, humanity and freedom.

“For their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”

She was the first woman to be elected head of state of an African country (Liberia) and also a an activist and economist. Johnson Sirleaf was one of three recipients, along with Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karmān, of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Peace for their efforts to further women’s rights.

  • 2015 Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet, a group of four organisations: the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers:

“For its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”

The Quarter came at a tumultuous and difficult time for their country. It was comprised of four key organisations in Tunisian civil society: the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

Each organisation represents different values in Tunisian society: working life and welfare, principles of the rule of law and human rights.

  • 2019 Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian Prime Minister

“for his work in restarting peace talks with neighboring Eritrea and beginning to restore freedoms in his country after decades of political and economic repression”

Mr Ahmed is credited with lifting the country’s state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalizing outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption, and increasing the influence of women in political and community life.

It is also worth noting that no black scientist has ever been awarded the prestigious prize. Last year might have been noted for its diversity and inclusion as for the fact that two women received this year’s Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry but it is worth noting that in over 100 years, we have never seen a black scientist become a Nobel laureate. More black scientists wouldn’t just be a victory for equality but would benefit wider society so we look forward to efforts from the Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances in the continent and beyond. It is time for Africa’s “Brain Drain” top stop and credit and investment to be given to those who deserve it the most.

CJ Glam is a Fashion Brand & Networking organisation based in London with an aim to promote everything that is African owned and Quality in the UK.

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