While most people would attest to loving a road trip with family or friends down the countryside, not many would go on one for two years more so spending much of the time spreading environment awareness.
But that is exactly what comedian Mark Sampson and his family are doing.
Sampson is originally from England but now resident in South Africa from where their Africa Clockwise started.
They had a sample trip around SA before planning the trip that will take them to 40 African countries inside about 32 months.
They travel in a monstrosity of a vehicle that was previously an Angolan army truck used during the war.
The truck has been converted into a big green truck. As if that wasn’t strange enough, the truck is powered by solar panels and runs on cooking oil.
It, however, needs biodiesel to ignite the engine.
“There are lots of things we could do to raise awareness. It is unfortunate that retail stores and restaurants that fry food in Namibia are required to pay to have their used oil removed because used oil could be sold which could be reused for purposes that consequently have a positive effect on the environment,” he said. He added that this could also have a positive effect on the economy as it can be a means to financial empowerment for the members of the community.
Sampson said that he realised that not everyone would be able to convert to run their vehicles on used cooking oil due to the complexities that surround government’s stance on allowing it as motor vehicle diesel fuel.
In addition, certain cars cannot be converted but Sampson said if he can get more people to use biodiesel in Africa then that would consider that as a victory.
Biodiesel, which is an alternative to fossil fuel, is a vegetable oil or animal fat based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl esters (a formula used in the production of bio-diesel) and is typically made of these chemically reacting lipids (fats).
Bio-diesel was introduced in Namibia some years ago but failed to pick up due to poor support and a low demand from the small population.
Other energy-saving means that Sampson proposes are solar lanterns, which in time, cut cost especially for shack owners as they no longer need to invest in candles and paraffin which can also be hazardous.
The comedian explains that he became concerned about the environment after he had his children and wanted to leave the earth in as good a condition as he could.
“We can’t change the climate today but we can change our children to deal with it tomorrow,” Sampson said.
They have stopped in Keetmashoop thus far and have teamed up with the local branch of the world-wide initiative YOUTHinkGreen.
They leave for Angola today as they continue with their two-and-a-half-year itinerary. He also plans to beat the world record for the longest journey on alternative fuel which was set by Cloe Whittaker and Tyson Jerry in 2010 by driving 48 535 km across the North American continent.
The journey also serves the Sampson family as a quest to discover the real meaning of happiness as they will be without television for 32 months.
“It’s a quest to investigate whether a future without fossil-fuelled luxuries may not be such a bad thing helping us to focus on quality of life not quantity of possessions,” Sampson stated.