With around 2000 languages, Africa has a tradition of diverse writing systems, some of which have been around for centuries. Others were invented in recent times and have either grown popular or slowly fallen out of use. And then of course there’s the Latin-based International Phonetic Alphabet, which is used with the African Reference Alphabet for hundreds of African languages. This presentation tells the story of how we came to design an innovative type family with respectful and accurate scripts. In detail, we’ll focus on the N’ko, Vai and Adlam complements. Our research involved not only visiting archives and establishing contacts with linguists, specialists and African language communities, we also received valuable information from the apps we created for promoting local commerce in Africa and the creation of indigenous content. Along the way, we’re not only learning how to drill deeper and find the best models for the glyph shapes, but we’re also learning the importance of writing systems as symbols of cultural identity.