The Cheeky Natives, a social media-based literary outfit run by Dr. Alma-Nalisha Cele and Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, is our social media influencer of the year for their commitment to providing digital spaces where readers of African books can find meaningful community.

Based out of Johannesburg, The Cheeky Natives have been “yours in literature” since 2017. The vision for the platform has always been an unapologetic celebration of black literary production. It started out as a literary podcast but have expanded its online presence to include Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook where Cele and Mokgoroane have amassed an expansive collection of video and audio content on African books and authors. The Cheeky Natives has also become a major publicity platform in the South African publishing market. It’s the favorite spot for virtual book-launches where readers discover new books and meet authors. Working with major publishing brands as well as indie presses to create visibility for their authors and books, The Cheeky Natives are playing an essential role in the South African literary eco-system.

Cele and Mokgoroane are a delightful duo. Their chemistry is beautiful to experience and drives attention-grabbing podcast conversations about writing, the reading culture, and various hot-button issues. They have become a go-to place for book lovers seeking guidance on who or what to read. On their list of interviewees includes Chinelo Okparanta, Akwaeke Emezi, Koleka Putuma, Mona Eltahawy, and Editor-in-Chief Dr. Ainehi Edoro-Glines, and many more.

The power of their influence on African literary culture was particularly evident during the pandemic. They were one of the first platforms to leverage digital technology in re-imagining community-building around books. While the pandemic was challenging for everyone, their “Lockdown Takeover” campaign brought readers and authors together in conversation.

Social media is clearly the new frontier in literary publishing and culture curation. It is thanks to platforms like The Cheeky Natives that African literature is at the forefront of using digital technology to expand the influence of literary culture.

Kudos to The Cheeky Natives for all you do!