Sun, Mar 20, 2005 - Page 7 News List

South Africa boasts the world's only college of magic

DPA , Cape Town

But he managed to convince his mother, a traditional woman with strong superstitions like many of the residents in the township, and now she's "very happy."

Makalani describes his style as "romantic magic" where silk handkerchiefs are important props.

Commenting on his sixth and final year of tuition, he said enthusiastically: "We are working towards the big illusion of sawing someone in half."

Globe-trotting career magician Jacques le Sueur, the man who managed to slip former South African president Nelson Mandela's watch from his arm undetected twice, is a former college graduate.

He decided to perform full-time when he graduated from the college in the early 1990s and has since staged shows in 37 countries around the world and penned two books on the subject.

As a non-verbal form of communication, magic has been "a tool" that he has used to survive and "break down barriers," he says.

The college recently introduced a distance-learning course that uses the Internet to take tuition to another level. Students are able to log onto the Internet, download video clips of magic acts and submit video clips of their assignments.

"We have just over 50 people from around the world -- places like Australia, the United Kingdom, Korea, Argentina, India and Singapore enrolled for this course. They are doctors, company directors, many university students and housewives," says college publicist Craig Mitchell.

"We even have a multiple sclerosis patient using the tricks for hand therapy," he says.

"The largest magic society in the United Kingdom is the Magic Circle; the US has the Magic Castle and in Africa we have the College of Magic," Mitchell says.

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