Mohamed Saïd Akasri is a percussionist and one of the artistic coordinators of Karkaba. He plays several percussion instruments, a.o. drums, qraqeb and t’bel. These last two are traditional Moroccan percussion instruments frequently used in gnawa-music.
Mohamed Saïd starts playing music at the age of 12. Member of a Molenbeek youth centre, he organises music workshops together with a friend and one of his brothers. It becomes their favourite pastime and they learn to play several instruments as autodidacts. After a while another Akasri brother, himself a musician, invites them to play together and form the first group in Brussels to play traditional Moroccan music.
After playing opening acts for Nass El Ghiwane in venues like AB, le Cirque Royal, Les Halles de Schaerbeek and Forest National, the group gets requests from everywhere: Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Germany… They play all over Europe and their reputation influences the Moroccan youth in Brussels and abroad. The group stops in 1997, but two years later Mohamed Saïd creates Oulad Bambara Gnawa de Bruxelles, the first non-profit association in Europe around the art of gnawa.
As soon as the association starts organising workshops in gnawa music, dance and traditional costumes, gnawas and mâalems (master musicians) from Europe and even Morocco come to visit them. They play at the international percussion festival in Bangkok in 2003 and at Couleur Café in 2001, 2007 and 2008.
In 1999 the musicians get in touch with Luc Mishalle, who invites them to set up some small-scale projects within MetX. This results in 2006 in the creation of Karkaba, a training program where Mohamed Saïd and mâalem Driss Filali introduce young people of all origins to gnawa music. Recently, the duo also started teaching at the Muziekpublique Academy about different aspects of gnawa culture. Additionally, Mohamed and Driss form the gnawa beating heart of MetX productions Remork & Karkaba and Banda Quetzal.