A magician’s hand is like a brain fart. And street magician Josue Muska Musenge, known as black jackhas been melting Johannesburg’s brains for years and fascinates the public.
The ease with which magicians trick the mind has always fascinated him and, on the other side of a deck of card tricks, a lifelong dream. Whether it’s one on one in a mall or in front of thousands on stage, black is a born artist.
Black said, “I’ve always been fascinated by magic, but at home it’s considered witchcraft.”
He came from the Democratic Republic of Congo and take to the streets of Joburg in search of a better life.
He said, “My family moved here after the war, and to earn a living, I sold grease cakes on street corners, repaired cell phones, and traded as much as I could to earn a living.”
It was then that he first encountered what Black calls South African magic, when he met a street magician whose theatrical art entranced him.
Though the magician initially didn’t agree to teach Black anything, the pair later got back together and the performer has been guiding Black ever since.
Between his initial rejection and reconciliation, the aspiring magician was guided by a Tanzanian magician. “But it wasn’t the kind of magic I wanted to make,” Black said.
Today, his repertoire includes the stock and trade of street magic along with larger and more complex illusions. He said, “I’ve walked on water and put my hand through a thick sheet of glass, and I’ve also entertained countless children at parties and people at fairgrounds.”
Black Jack has the French zest for life to a great extent. He has a spring in his step and sneaks around everywhere.
His signature red bowler hat is always present. He said magicians’ wardrobes are drab and that Black is currently looking for something more funky and accessible African to suit his craft, his personality and of course his continent.
Black and I met at the East Rand Mall, a center brave enough to give the magician free rein to fascinate shopkeepers and shoppers alike.
And the answer was the same every time: disbelief.
We crossed the mall and amazed people. Literally. Black’s little sponge-ball trick, card games and banter had subjects down, and a little nervous to see magic so close. It was fascinating and hilarious to watch at the same time.
People like magic, people like to believe, and in Black’s case, seeing him does just that.
A shop assistant at Sorbet insisted it was magic witchcraft, another shopper tried to understand and asked Black to repeat the trick. His jaw had fallen permanently.
At Cardies, a reluctant co-worker became a captivated contestant as Black’s charisma and handful won over her, overcoming her skepticism. On the other side of the mall, another shopkeeper didn’t want him to leave, she wanted to see more while covering her face in embarrassment.
He said: “When I perform, magic has the same impact everywhere. I always get that joy, that excitement from people. Sometimes I yell at people, you know? And I think that’s what makes magic magical.”
Black grins from ear to ear as he talks about his craft. His passion is infectious and his demeanor so welcoming and warm that it’s no wonder he resonates with audiences, be it one or a hundred.
He said: “Magic can make the world a better place. I fully believe it. And I want the world to be a better place.”
To that end, he invested money in creating an app that teaches everyone the basics of magic.
“I want magic to be shared across Africa so aspiring magicians can enjoy a kind of mentorship like me. It’s free.
“It’s a dream come true, for me.”