Cornishman Mark Sampson came to South Africa on a surfing holiday in 1992, and stayed on to work as a histologist in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Coventrian Sam Pearce, an Oxford graduate, came on a convalescent holiday in 1994 in an attempt to recover from M.E. They met in Cape Town in 1996 and married in 1998, in between working at various music festivals notably Up The Creek as MC and PRO respectively.
In 1999, they founded the Cape Comedy Collective, SA first cross-cultural comedy initiative. Sampson mentored Loyiso Gola, Kagiso Lediga, Riaad Moosa, Conrad Koch, Nik Rabinowitz, Kurt Schoonraad, Stuart Taylor, Dave Levinsohn, Tshepo Mogale, Tracy Klass, Khaya Dlanga et al in their weekly free Comedy Lab. In 2003, they took a CCC show to the International Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in partnership with Old Mutual, the Department of Arts and Culture and the British Council, garnering 4 star reviews.
Since 2005 Sampson has written and toured 3 solo shows nationwide:
Missing Links comedy about evolution with a diversity message
Feels Funny comedy about depression and growth through adversity in SA
Africa Clockwise eco-comedy reflecting on empowering African values.
In 2005, Pearce, who has a Masters in Diversity Studies from UCT, founded the eMzantsi Carnival community-building project. In 2009, eMzantsi was granted R8million by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. In 2012, the eMzantsi mapiko recycled arts training project for single mothers and adult disabled learners was granted US$81000 from UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
Pearce speaks French and will be representing the Arterial Network en route, meeting with arts and culture organisations in each country to spread a message of connection and pan-African pride. The Minister of Arts and Culture has also officially endorsed the Africa Clockwise adventure: Pearce and Sampson will be cultural ambassadors for South Africa on this trip, promoting the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance and the efforts of SA artists to draw attention to climate change across the continent respectively. Sampson will be performing the Africa Clockwise show at SA embassies on the way.
Sampson and Pearce are residents of Noordhoek in Cape Town, and have a biological daughter and adopted son who both attended Masakhane Educare, an isiXhosa pre-school in the neighbouring township of Masiphumelele, before going to Fish Hoek Primary School.