When you mention the word magic anywhere in Africa, what comes to mind is dark alley divinations and terrifying voodoo-like artifacts.
In Africa, as far as magic is concerned, we are incurable skeptics; analyzing every trick with razor-sharp focus, wanting desperately to get to the bottom of the ruse.
The mystery and mysticism behind the questionable art form called magic is the reason why there aren’t many takers in the space. So when we are treated to the uncommon spectacle of a talent like Babs Cardini, we are all required, without exception, to pay close attention.
Magician and Illusionist, Babatunde Kasunmu popularly known as Babs Cardini is navigating a relatively uncharted space with his brand of magic, drawing equal measures of skepticism and wonder as feedback.
Babs Cardini who got his unique alias from shortening his first name, Babatunde to ‘Babs’ and compressing ‘Card Genie’ his affectionate alias into ‘Cardini,’ believes without a doubt that magic is an African expression.
“Magic has always been a part of our African culture and heritage. It was a major part of the exhibition when the country opened Festac 77, so I am surprised to see the skepticism from people. Moreover, long after the Festac 77′ exhibition there remained a prominent individual by name “Prof Peller” so it’s clear that I am only picking up where the famous late Prof. Peller left off,” he offers.
On his most recurring criticism leveled by a spectator, the 20 year old illusionist has a well-stacked list.
“There are several, but the most prominent is the saying from individuals that the art form has to do with spirituality, in layman’s terms voodoo/juju/jazz. It’s so sad hearing remarks like that continuously,” he explains.
On the light bulb moment that led to his pursuit of magic, Babs Cardini explains his long-standing fascination for the controversial art form.
“The reality of wanting to become a magician materialized fully when i was 16, but as a 5 year old i had always been fascinated with the magical world,” he explains.
Becoming Babs Cardini
The streets of Lagos is a strange place to perform magic, with its odd assortment of characters that are highly unpredictable, but Babs Cardini has ventured within its depth in a bid to acquire an authentic street fan base.
A quick movement of the hand, a repeated instruction to watch closely and without warning magic is made right in front of the crowd. Reactions vary from person to person but Babs Cardini agrees that the feedback is vaguely the same; amazement. And like every entertainer, he revels in the feedback when it is offered without bias.
“There is this satisfactory feeling after a performance and the people you performed to get wowed and amazed without having any form of biased mindset towards it, but see it as a creative work of art.”
With only four active years as a magician, a practiced eye can still see a distinct similarity between the fast-rising, blond-haired Nigerian magician and one of the most celebrated magicians of our time; Dynamo.
“My influence comes from all magicians, big and small, known or unknown by people, for each one has a special thing up their sleeve. But my major influence is “Dynamo” who is one of the greats in this era.”
The Gift of Magic
“One doesn’t learn magic. You can learn a trick or two, perform illusions but magic can’t be learnt!”
Babs Cardini is emphatic on this premise, further deepening the rumors that his trade is aided by dark arts.
He nevertheless tries to reflect, oftentimes without success, the normality of an average teenager when he shows vested interest in things like skateboarding. But a dash to the nearest supermarket might probably be accompanied by a quick magic trick, where he turns paper into money. This is not his favorite trick Babs Cardini explains, even though it has easily become one of the most requested ones.
“It’s a Nigerian mentality, when they see you as a magician; they get wowed and ask whether you can turn stuff into money. Most of the request is always about money,” he laments.
His favorite trick is a hair-raising endeavor that sees him stand behind two volunteers placed a distance apart with eyes closed and when one is touched the other mysteriously feels it too.
As for his most difficult trick, he’s yet to pinpoint one.
“Honestly i really don’t have any as i speak, because i grow at every stage point.”
As controversial as his trade is, Babs Cardini agrees that it has brought him before the biggest bands in the land to include;
Hennessy 10th year anniversary, Sujimoto 5th anniversary, BBNaija Season 5, Teni’s concert, Kizz Daniel’s concert, Zlatan’s concert, Mike Adenuga’s private party, Seyi Tinubu’s private party amongst many other high profile gatherings; and that’s only looking at events within Lagos State.
Babs Cardini, who is a national diploma holder in computer science, explains that the most rearding part of magic is always the reactions gotten from the audience after any illusion is done.
There are difficulties in any given trade, but when you are being hunted for entertaining people, then your ‘workplace challenges’ are unique and on a whole new level.
Babs Cardini revealed once in an interview that, “someone once sent people to kill me for doing magic.”
A rather chilling proposition, but the experience hasn’t stopped the young Illusionist in any way.
So, as you binge on the compelling videos of Babs Cardini in action on YouTube, you may inadvertently be adding to the earnings of the young magician who is rumored to be worth a substantial amount already.
And even though magic remains a scary proposition in Africa, Babs Cardini’s brand of the art is laced with such a cool modern exterior that watching him perform makes your entire predisposition about the art form melt away.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here