Today's New York Times has a lovely article about a college of magic in a poor area of Cape Town, South Africa. Although the article mostly avoids any serious discussion of the art, it does focus a spotlight on the way the school and its program helps disadvantaged kids to gain confidence and life skills.
It's nice to see magic represented in such a generally positive light.
Presto! A School for Magic Creates Hope Out of Thin Air
By MICHAEL WINES
KHAYELITSHA, South Africa — Life is hard for the 750,000 or so people crammed into this shantytown, one of South Africa's largest and toughest. In the last census, in 2001, 6 in 10 adults here said they had no steady income. What little money they have tends to vanish quickly, spent on essentials or stolen in the break-ins and robberies that are endemic here.
The way Phumile Dyasi makes money vanish is rather less common...
For six years, 16-year-old Phumile has studied prestidigitation at College of Magic in Cape Town, a sort of kindergarten-to-baccalaureate institution for aspiring conjurers. Making coins disappear is the least of the tricks he has picked up.
From a shy 10-year-old who knew only Xhosa, South Africa's principal indigenous tongue, Phumile has grown to speak fluent English and handle audiences with aplomb. In 2004, he was chosen the best young magician in Western Cape Province. In March 2005, he was in Las Vegas, honing his skills with some of the world's top magicians. He hopes to make entertainment a lifelong career.
Link (may require free NYT registration)
TOTH to my buddy Tim for the link.