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11 South African Nobel Prizewinners

February 14, 2014 By:

When you think South African Nobel Prizes, a few names will spring as easily to mind as springbok pronking through the veld, but did you know we actually have 11 illustrious prizewinners? 


Michael Levitt, Chemistry, 2013

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013 was awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems. Michael Levitt was born in Pretoria.

J. M. Coetzee, Literature, 2003

A Western Cape boy, he went to school in Cape Town and Worcester, and university at UCT. He became an Australian citizen in 2006.

Sydney Brenner, Physiology or Medicine, 2002

Born in Germiston, the prize was awarded for discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death.

F.W. de KlerkNelson Mandela, Peace, 1993

This one needs no introduction. de Klerk from Johannesburg and Mandela from Qunu in the Eastern Cape were awarded the Nobel Peace prize for  their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.

Nadine Gordimer, Literature, 1991

Only the seventh woman to win a Nobel Prize, Springs born Gordimer's writing was described as 'epic'.

Desmond Tutu, Peace, 1984

Born in Klerksdorp, his prize was awarded for his opposition to the apartheid regime.

Allan M. Cormack, Physiology or Medicine, 1979

A Johanneburger who died in the USA in 1998, the prize was for the development of computer assisted tomography (a technique for displaying a representation of a cross section through a human body or other solid object using X-rays or ultrasound).

Albert Lutuli, Peace, 1960

He was born in Zimbabwe and died in Stanger, in KZN. His prized marked the second time the Nobel Committee awarded one to somebody being persecuted by their own authorities (the first was concentration camp survivor Carl von Ossietzky).

Max Theiler, Physiology or Medicine, 1951

Pretoria born, he was awarded the Nobel for his discoveries concerning yellow fever and how to combat it.

Aaron Klug, Chemistry, 1982

Lithuanian born, he moved to South Africa at the age of two, studied at Wits and UCT and was awarded the prize for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes.

You can visit/hug/pose with 4 of them in statue form at Cape Town's Nobel Square, at the V&A Waterfront. 



LandnSand Rover

LandnSand Rover was a Stellenbosch street cat, before he joined the team as an intern roving reporter. Some say that he can be seen late at night, prowling along Dorp Street to the town centre, in search of hot leads (or a bar that won't inspect his ID card too closely). His interests include fishing, wine and mice and his main ambition is to grow old enough to attend wine tastings. He answers all his own fan mail.

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