Sereghini preserves forefathers’ traditional shoemaking in Assilah

46-year-old civil servant says his part-time traditional shoemaking has been kept throughout three generations.

ASSILAH – Traditional shoemaking is one of Assilah’s trademarks as intrigued visitors explore the creativity of handicrafts in Morocco’s northern coastal city.

Mustapha Bel Harradia Sereghini is one of the skilled traditional shoemakers in the well-preserved medina that attracts visitors from around the world, especially during the Assilah International Moussem Festival.

“I learned how to make shoes from my father who himself was an apprentice at my grandfather’s shop,” said Mustapha who does it on a part-time basis because he works in the local council during the week.

“It’s a heritage that has been well preserved throughout three generations in our family,” he told Middle East Online as he was busy making a special order for Bahraini photographer Oussama Mohammed Hassan who was working at the Festival.

The 46-year-old civil servant has been making traditional slippers and shoes since he was a teenager.

“My father bought this shop in 1990. I have since worked here,” said Sereghini.

“I’m a regular customer. Every year I come to Assilah, I drop by to buy quality leather shoes from Mustapha,” said Oussama while Sereghini was making blue sandals for him, meticulously cutting pieces of leathers with huge old-fashioned iron scissors.

“I have a variety of slippers and sandals that cater for both male and female buyers’ financial means and taste. The prices vary from Dh40 ($4) to Dh300 ($30) according to the leather’s quality,” said Serewghini, adding that the busiest sales periods were the summer and Christmas holidays.

“There are shoes that can take up to two days to make,” he said as the sweat on his face was dropping on the small wooden table on his laps.

Assilah hosts every summer an international cultural festival that showcases an array of cultural, intellectual and artistic activities besides music concerts.

The small city is also famous for its immortal sunset and unspoiled surrounding beaches such as Rmilate and Tahaddart.

Saad Guerraoui, Ph.D, is Deputy Editor-In-Chief of Middle East Online