Augustine C. OhanweMonday, November 8, 2010



he inspirational story of William Kamkwamba of Malawi, would make any downtrodden Nigerian boy grit his teeth and tighten his girdle in order to uplift himself from the marshes and bogs and rise from the state of hopelessness to the pedestal of hope.


Here comes his story.

William Kamkwamba is a Malawian from a family of seven children. He is the 2nd eldest of his parents' seven children. William is the only male. After his elementary school he moved on to secondary school. But his secondary school carrier was short-lived not because he was a dunce, but because of non-payment of $80 annual school fees. He became a dropout at the age of 14. For five years it was not possible for him to return to the classroom

Williamís father is a farmer, but when famine visited Malawi, his fatherís farm land was turned into a desolate barren field. Williamís hope of going back to school appeared remote.

His only option was to stay at home with his parents, an option that had the possibility of driving him into despair. A mood that would have forced him to become a virtual recluse, and live in the limitations of his disappointments, lost opportunities and vanquished dreams. William would have remained in that small world, deploring fate and mourning for the day he was born.

But he refused to feel disconsolate or allow his heart to live in disappointments or sink into the lowland.

He refused the temptation to join a gang of miscreants and rock the social peace. Stealing goats from their neighbourís barn or kidnapping babies for ransom could have been a lucrative business waiting to be executed with impunity. But he refused to succumb to such temptations. Instead he took wings, rose above the tribulation that visited him, and chose to trek to the downtown library on a daily basis to find solace and to borrow books.

It was in the library that William found something that finally changed his whole life. He picked a book that had a picture of a windmill, and read that windmill has the power to generate electricity. Williamís village has no electricity. Having been inspired by the book, he left the library and started gathering wires, discarded bicycle tyres, tractor fan blades, old shock absorbers, car batteries etc., for the construction of a windmill.

He made one windmill of 5 meters that was able to generate electricity for his parentsí house. Villagers trooped in droves to his house to charge their mobile phone batteries. He later improved on it and constructed another of 12 meters to harness more winds that was able to provide electricity for six homes of his extended family members; a deep water well operated with a solar powered pump for water supply, and an irrigation system for his fatherís farm land. He constructed another for his village. Reporters in Malawi interviewed him and published his achievements. When the news spread beyond Africa, William was invited to talk to the Americans on how he conceived his idea. He had visited New York and Chicago and many other parts of the world to give lectures on his invention. William has written a book titled, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.

William had a boiling desire. The library was his catalyst.

Below are links to his video clips.