Mohamed Suita AKA « Boustta »

© Gilles Abegg

Boustta was born in 1933, the son of a night guard in the security service. “My father was an ‘esas (a guard), as we say. He was one of the qa’id’s guards at the time of the Glawi, but that particular qa’id was on duty at night. He had to supervise the work that went on at night. Guards would arrest drunkards, for instance. They were on the lookout for anyone who committed a reprehensible act. In other words, the guards would do their round just like another kind of policeman. So in Marrakech there was a policeman and a guard, the former in uniform and the guard in a turban and jellaba with his cartridge belt round his waist. My father was one of these guards. He died when I was 4 years old. I can just about remember him.” 

Boustta entered the world of the malhun at his workplace. By the age of 11 he was already an apprentice. “I learned on the job. I was an apprenticeI did embroidery on leather. That was my craft, embroidering men’s leather bags, like this one (he showed me his bag, worn across the shoulder under his jellaba). That’s my trade. I discovered the existence of the malhun in 1944 at my place of work, with other craftsmen.”

Hassan Jouad, translated by Délia Morris

Available album: The Malhun in Marrakech