Kafa[1] has bold letterforms and stout strokes that imply a powerful design with an inescapable visual presence.

Originally designed as a form of protest against politics of hate and xenophobia, this typeface by Nadine Chahine continues to convey its activist voice in political messages, posters, and banners in uprisings throughout the Middle East. Kafa visually disrupts and intervenes to capture readers’ attention and trigger their emotions.

Available in a single style — Black — Kafa’s flow is a unique amalgam of dynamic cursive shapes with steady horizontal and vertical strokes. The short stems, the minimum variations of descender heights, and the less variable loop and tooth heights create a sense of assertion and determination.

Of particular note is that Kafa sustains a smooth continual legibility despite its narrow counterforms, low contrast, and heavy shapes. The abrupt angular and pointed stroke endings metaphorically radiate an aggressiveness that elegantly connotes anger and frustration in its visual representation, and dovetails with Chahine’s ultimate aim. Despite these brusque formal qualities, Kafa sustains refined and consistent curves and details.

This noble design proves not only that actions speak louder than words, but also that typefaces can amplify voices of dissent and resilience.

Diane Mikhael is an associate professor, designer, author, curator, and researcher. She cofounded the Middle East Design Educators Association (MEDEA). She holds an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practices from OCAD University, Toronto, Canada (2018) and an MA degree in Design from Middlesex University, London (2000). She also holds an International recognition certificate from the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD), London (1996); since then, she has served as an assessor for the ISTD students’ scheme in London and the ISTD Middle East chapter. She is the author of the book Bilingualism in Visual Communication: Visible Forms and Meaning of Arabic and Latin Typography (2017).


  1. ^ Kafa (arabictype.com)
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