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 Morrocan 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 Morrocan 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 Morrocan 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.
Shortly after the creation in 1999, Luc Mishalle gets in touch with them. They start some small scale projects via MetX, leading eventually to the creation of Karkaba in 2006. Via this training program, Mohamed Saïd and mâalem Driss Filali teach gnawa music to young people and adolescents from all origins. Sharing their passion for the gnawa tradition with younger generations, they also inspire Karkaba members to start their own groups, like The Grey Stars, Black Koyo and Tsoukina.
As one of the key musicians at MetX, Mohamed Saïd also plays in other productions. To name but a few: gnawa brass band Remork & Karkaba, the Marolles neighbourhood project MegafoniX or QuetzalQuatro, one of the MetX Moving Combos in 2020.