Eco-tripping for a continental shift

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TO Sampson3

Mark Sampson is serious about being an eco-warrior. We’re sitting outside an eatery on a busy Cape Town street one chilly afternoon.

Before he asks his wife and Cape Town Comedy Collective founder, Sam Pearce, to fetch him a jersey from their vehicle, he makes it a point to teach me some cool signs.

A woman who managed to slip her skeletal frame into some very tight clothes picks up her toddler and puts her into a large luxury vehicle.

“There’s this attitude of selfishness,” Sampson says as our eyes follow the woman and her spawn.

“All these tiny women in big cars,” he pitches his voice up and says: “Whether it’s good for anyone or not, we’ll buy a Hummer.”

When the woman swings around to the driver’s side and it’s clear the family isn’t a large one, Sampson says that acquiring a huge vehicle with the presupposition that it will protect your child from harm is “the prime example of ‘my baby is more important than yours’”.

He puts his index, middle and ring finger up in the shape of a W and points it in the direction of the big car that drives off and says: “That’s W for waster. If you point your W to the side, then up, then you can call them an eco-waster. And if you point your W down, then to the side, then up, then you can call someone a mother-eco-waster!”

Why all this talk about eco-wasters, you may wonder? Well, for a few months, Sampson has been using stand-up comedy to create an awareness about climate change and what all of us can do to make the world a better place, like Michael Jackson said.

This month, he will put on the last Africa Clockwise show at the Masque Theatre in Muizenburg as the comedian and his family are preparing to start an epic two-year journey around the continent in what they are simply and aptly calling, Africa Clockwise, in April.

“My aim is to inspire families to travel and embrace all parts of the continent because South Africans don’t see themselves as part of Africa,” he explains.

“Then as a byline, I want to create a focus for climate change.

“The clock is ticking – that’s why the title has ‘clockwise’ in it – for us and we’re getting much older.

“And it’s also about stretching the time spent with our kids because these days at just 12 years old – not 16 any more – kids want to be on their phones all the time.”

Mark and Sam will have their 11-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son in tow in their big Green Bandwagon which is a truck that has large solar panels “that were powerful enough to charge the phones and cameras of everyone at Africa Burn”. It runs on vegetable oil that is supplied by Kalky’s restaurant in Kalk Bay.

This eco-friendly mission wouldn’t be possible without Kalky’s, Treetops Renewable Resources and DigiCape, but the Sampsons still need more sponsors to ensure their journey reaches its full potential.

After all, Sampson’s registered the trip with the Guinness World Book of Records and hopes to break a record. But is Sampson nervous about the next two years?

“It’s good to be a bit nervous,” he admits, “but we aren’t foolhardy, but respectful about taking the kids to parts like West Africa.”

After all, he told me earlier: “It’s not just about leaving a better planet for our kids, it’s also about leaving better kids for our planet.”

• Catch Africa Clockwise with Mark Sampson at the Masque Theatre in Muizenburg from Sunday to September 29. Tickets are R65. Book by calling 021 788 1898. Follow @africaclockwise on Twitter to keep up with the Sampsons.


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