List of African educators, scientists and scholars

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This is a list of African educators, scientists and scholars who were born or active on the African continent.

North Africa[edit]


  • Imhotep fl. 2667–2611 BC, an Egyptian polymath
  • Euclid, a Greek mathematician active in Hellenistic Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I (323–283 BC).
  • Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), an Egyptian jurist, religious scholar and liberal reformer, regarded as the founder of Islamic Modernism.
  • Abū Kāmil Shujā ibn Aslam
  • Sameera Moussa (1917–1952), an Egyptian nuclear scientist.
  • Al-Jahiz (781 – 868/869), an Afro-Arab scholar of East African descent.
  • Arius (AD ca. 250 or 256 – 336), a Christian priest from Alexandria, Egypt.
  • Al-Suyuti (c. 1445–1505 AD), an Egyptian writer, religious scholar, juristic expert and teacher.
  • Ahmed Zewail (1946-2016), Egyptian-American scientist, awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


  • Saint Cyprian (died September 14, 258), was bishop of Carthage and early Christian writer.




  • Rachid Yazami (1953-), French Moroccan scientist best known for his research on lithium ion batteries.

Sub-Saharan African[edit]


  • Ibrahim Njoya, a ruler of the Bamum people, in what is now western Cameroon credited with developing a semi-syllabic Bamum script which evolved from the rudimentary pictographic script to a more advanced logo graphic script, which he later refined to the semi-syllabic script known to the world today.


  • Haile Debas (b. 1937), an Eritrean who achieved national recognition as a gastrointestinal investigator and made original contributions to the physiology, biochemistry, and pathophysiology of gastrointestinal peptide hormones.



  • Wangari Maathai, (b. 1940), a Kenyan environmental and political activist who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Thomas R. Odhiambo (1931–2003), a Kenyan entomologist and environmental activist.
  • Henry Odera Oruka, (b.1944), Kenyan philosopher known for Sage philosophy project started in the 1970s.


  • Mohammed Bagayogo (1523–1593), an eminent scholar from Timbuktu, Mali.
  • Modibo Mohammed Al Kaburi a scholar, Cadi and Jurist, and university professor, from Timbuktu, Mali.
  • Cheick Modibo Diarra, (b. 1952), Malian-born aerospace engineer who contributed to several NASA missions such as Mars Path Finder, the Galileo spacecraft, and the Mars Observer.
  • Ahmad Baba (1556–1627), a medieval West African writer, scholar, and political provocateur.


  • John Ogbu (1939–2003), a Nigerian-American anthropologist and university professor.
  • Seyi Oyesola, a Nigerian doctor, who co-invented hospital in a box.
  • Bisi Ezerioha, (b. 1972), a Nigerian engineer, racer and former pharmaceutical executive who has built some of the world's most powerful Honda and Porsche engines.


  • Cheikh Anta Diop (1923–1986), a Senegalese historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician.

South African[edit]

  • Thebe Medupe (b. 1973), a South African astrophysicist and founding director of Astronomy Africa.
  • Allan McLeod Cormack (1924–1998), a South African-born American physicist, who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • Aaron Klug, (b. 1926), a Lithuanian-born British chemist and biophysicist, who won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He moved to South Africa at the age of two and studied at the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Cape Town.
  • Sydney Brenner (b. 1927), a South African biologist, who won the 2002 Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine.
  • Christiaan Barnard (1922–2001), a South African cardiac surgeon, who performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant.
  • Tshilidzi Marwala (b. 1971), a South African scientist and inventor.
  • Himla Soodyall, a South African human geneticist, known for genetic research into the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Trefor Jenkins, a human geneticist from South Africa, noted for his work on DNA.
  • Andries Van Aarde professor of theology at University of Pretoria.
  • Azwinndini Muronga professor of physics and dean of science.



  • Felix A. Chami, an archaeologist and university professor from Tanzania.