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 Producer for Africa Writes. She is an author, shortlisted for the 2018 Morland Writing Scholarships, and produces the Royal African Society’s Africa Writes at the British Library, Bernie Grant Arts Centre’s Tottenham Literature Festival and Apples and Snakes’ SPINE Festival. She previously worked with the Caine Prize for African Writing and co-founded Afrikult. Her short fiction is published in journals, and her children’s books are published by Rising Star (Hachette UK). She is completing her first novel and represented by The Good Literary Agency. She holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS, University of London, majoring in literatures in African languages, and though on a social media hiatus, she seldom tweets at @matekiwrites.

Image credit: Beulah Davina.


Beth O’Connor is the Marketing & PR Consultant for Africa Writes 2021. s a marketing and pr specialist with experience working around the world in Australia, the UK and sub-Saharan Africa. She has overseen the marketing and pr for a number of London venues including Rich Mix, the Design Museum and Bishopsgate Institute as well the London-based Africa Writes and Film Africa festivals alongside Malawi’s international Lake of Stars Festival. Recently Beth has combined working in South Africa and Kenya with studying, publishing her Masters research on live music audiences in Johannesburg in 2016 and is currently exploring Nairobi creative collectives for her PHD. She tweets at @bethoconnor3



Natalie Fiawoo is Co-Producer for Africa Writes 2021. She has worked in theatre, film and heritage and specialises in telling stories of the African Diaspora. She typically produces tours, curates exhibitions, develops digital content and, on occasion, can be found on a film set producing short films. Natalie regularly works with the likes of all-round super-human Yomi Sode, the nation’s number one poetry organisation Apples and Snakes, internationally renowned heritage centre, Black Cultural Archives, charities like Oxfam and more.




Olivia Danso is the Education Programme Manager for the Poetry in the Primary Classroom Project. She has been a Project Manager in London and Melbourne, working across the government, charity, education and arts industries for over a decade. She works with Blueprinted, an organisation created to improve racial diversity in communications and PR, and in 2019 she launched and ran the BookTrust Represents project, supporting and promoting British children’s authors and illustrators of colour. She also uses her Ghanaian name to write fiction as Maame Blue, and in June 2020 her debut novel ‘Bad Love’ was published by Jacaranda Books.



Desta Haile is Deputy Director at the Royal African Society. She is a creative multilingual British-Eritrean writer, educator and consultant with a background in intercultural communication, social justice and the performing arts. Previously, she worked as Africa Region Capacity Building Manager and Coordinator for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. In 2020 Desta won To Speak Europe in Different Languages at Babel Festival of Literature and Translation, a writing competition organised by Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile), Specimen Press and The European Cultural Foundation. In 2021, she received the Afritondo short story prize. Her passion project, Languages through Music, was awarded a BOZAR Brussels Afropolitan grant for its innovation, and has developed workshops and materials for events like Africa Utopia at Southbank Centre. As a musician, she composed the UNESCO Green Citizens campaign song and worked with artists like Zap Mama, Baloji, and Filho do Zua. She holds an MA in Black British Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London.


Lizzie is the Royal African Society’s Administrative Manager. Having worked in various project coordination and administrative roles in the healthcare and property industries, she provides support to the Director as well as ensuring the smooth running of the office. With an active interest in the arts and culture, the Royal African Society provides a perfect opportunity for her to further develop her passion for Africa’s past, present and future.



Bashirat Oladele is the Marketing Intern for Africa Writes 2021. She is a freelance writer and has written for publications such as Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, the i Paper, The Irish Times and many more. She is currently a student at university. Growing up, she has always been interested in literature, in particular diverse young adult fiction and this influenced her decision to intern with the Marketing team for Africa Writes, coupled with her interests in copywriting, content creation and more.




Iman Saleh is the Production Intern for Africa Writes 2021. Growing up between both Egypt and London Iman has always been intrigued by the cultural differences as influenced by the social and political circumstances. This has drawn her to Egyptian literature and film. Iman has recently graduated with a BA in History and Film Studies from Queen Mary University of London. During her BA she has produced and directed a number of student films, as well as expanded her knowledge on African cinema.



Tjawangwa Dema is a Bristol-based Motswana poet and co-producer of Africa Writes–Bristol 2019. 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




Kate Wallis is Lecturer in World Literatures in the Department of English and Film at the University of Exeter and co-producer of Africa Writes–Bristol 2019 . She is currently working on a monograph exploring pan-African literary networks post-2000 building on her doctoral research on Kwani Trust, Farafina and Cassava Republic Press.  Her work has been published in Wasafiri, Research in African Literatures and the Routledge Handbook of African Literature. She is a Director for Kigali-based publishing company Huza Press, a co-founder and editor of, and was Producer of the Africa Writes festival in London in 2015.




We are grateful to all our previous festival team members: Caitlin Pearson, Sheila Ruiz, Nancy Adimora, Adanech Tadesse, Daniel Kofi Appiah, Joanna Brown, 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.