The Team

The Africa Writes 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:



Sheila Ruiz is the Head of Programmes, Partnerships and Operations for the RAS – heading the organisation’s extensive programme of events, including the annual Africa Writes and Film Africa festivals and the RAS Annual Lecture. 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 and a BA in History from SOAS. She is of mixed Spanish/Equato-Guinean heritage and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She tweets @SheilaRuiz





Canon Collins conference in Cape Town, July 2015. Photography by Clare Louise ThomasCaitlin Pearson is the RAS Events Programme Manager. She works on the general public events programme as well the annual Africa Writes festival. Her background is in higher education and scholarship – she previously worked in communications and events at the Centre of African Studies, 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 TV, representation, class and disability. She is working towards expanding the reach of Africa Writes to other parts of England, as well as Wales and Scotland.





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.





Marcelle Mateki Akita is the Assistant Producer for Africa Writes 2017. She is a writer, co-founder of Afrikult. and the web content editor for the Caine Prize. Her fiction work has appeared in magazines and literary journals such as Aké Review to online magazines such as AFREADA, and her debut collection ‘Lizard and Other Stories’ was published in December 2016. She holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS, University of London, majoring in literatures in African languages. She shares her work on and is on Instagram @matekiwrites.






Marketing & Communications

Yovanka Paquete Perdigao is  the Marketing & Communications Manager for the Royal African Society.  She oversees all marketing and communications across the organisation, including for Africa Writes and Film Africa. Previously she worked in event programming and communications for the Africa Centre and the Africa Research Institute. From Guinea-Bissau, she is a writer and translator. Her poetry has been published in Brittle Paper, her translations in Jalada and her writing in the Guardian. She also holds an Msc in Violence, conflict and development from SOAS, University of London.  She tweets @yova_nka






Rhoda Tomilola Ola-Said is the summer intern for the Royal African Society. She is a second year student studying English at Soas University, exploring literature from around the world. She also interns at Magnify magazine and developed Dashiki and Mom Jeans, a website promoting stories of black women in the UK which features her writing alongside others.