The Team

The Africa Writes London team is composed of the dedicated staff of the Royal African Society.

They say the most valuable asset of any organisation are the people who work in it; it is an honour to recognise the diverse and talented individuals whose passion, drive and unified vision to celebrate and promote contemporary African Literature, help make Africa Writes what it is:

Marcelle Mateki Akita is the Project Coordinator at the Royal African Society and lead Producer for Africa Writes 2019. She is co-founder of Afrikult.  and a fiction writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and literary journals such as Aké Review and AFREADA, and her collection ‘Lizard and Other Stories’ was published in December 2016. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Morland Writing Scholarship. She holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS, University of London, majoring in literatures in African languages. She tweets at @matekiwrites.





Joanna BrownJoanna Brown is the Education Programme Manager at Africa Writes. After six years as a primary teacher in Haringey, specialising in Literacy and Reading Enrichment, she is now developing streams of work to support cultural organisations in their delivery of educational programmes. Prior to working in education, she co-ordinated community projects in the housing sector, with a focus on performing arts. Previously she worked as an events co-ordinator at the British Film Institute and the BBC. She is of Sierra Leonean and English descent. Joanna holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and trained to teach at the Institute of Education.




Canon Collins conference in Cape Town, July 2015. Photography by Clare Louise ThomasCaitlin Pearson is the Fundraising Manager at the Royal African Society, working on Trusts & Foundations, Public Funding, Impact Partnerships and Individual Membership. She also works on Africa Writes festival. Her background is in higher education and scholarship – she previously worked in communications and events at the Centre for African Studies, based at SOAS, and at the Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust. Caitlin holds a BA from the University of Birmingham and an MA from SOAS, both in African Studies. Her research interests include film and television, representation, class and disability. In 2017, she led on expanding the reach of Africa Writes to other parts of England, as well as Wales and Scotland.




Sheila Ruiz  is Deputy Director at the Royal African Society. She joined the RAS in September 2011 as the Events Programme Manager and helped set up Africa Writes in 2012. Prior to joining the RAS, Sheila was the Communications and Programming Consultant for the Africa Centre and previously worked as a freelance events producer for various arts projects in London. Sheila holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS and a BA in History from UCL. She is of mixed Spanish/Equato-Guinean heritage and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She tweets at @SheilaRuiz





Tjawangwa Dema is a Bristol-based Motswana poet. Winner of the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry, Dema is also an experienced literary producer & arts administrator. Having founded an arts management organisation that facilitated events, mentorship, archival and international exchange initiatives, she oversaw the establishment and launch of the Gaborone Public Library’s poetry reading room. She is former Chairperson of The Writers Association of Botswana and a founding member of the Exoduslivepoetry! collective, who coordinated Botswana’s sole annual poetry festival between 2004 and 2008. Photo by Petra Rolinec



We are grateful to all our previous festival team members: Baindu Kallon, Ralitsa Chorbadzhiyska, Beth O’Connor, Yovanka Paquete Perdigao, Rhoda Tomilola Ola-Said, Amal Osman, Dele Meiji Fatunla, Kelechi Emmanuel Iwumene, Josette Joseph, Shushan Tewolde-Berhan, and Kate Wallis.