10 min read ⌚
Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
If you think the odds are against you, you should hear the story of the boy with a bag of hopes!
The book’s narrative spins around one man’s journey to technological breakthroughs and life-encounters that shaped his mission.
Who Should Read “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”? And Why?
Unlike most other books which are better suited for some than others, this one is most definitely going to spark that fighting spirit inside you.
It will be a huge mistake not to read the story of William Kamkwamba premised in “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.”
It surely covers one of the most intriguing storylines we have ever bumped into.
About William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
William Kamkwamba is a Malawian author, engineer, and innovator born on August 5th, 1987. He rose to popularity in 2007, when he somehow managed to build a wind turbine and generate enough power to supply a few electrical appliances in his house – literally out of garbage!
Bryan Mealer is a correspondent born in Odessa, Texas.
Prior to William’s enlightenment in science, he was fearful of magic. When he was six, a boy next door gave him a bubble gum, not aware that it was stolen – he took it. The next day, a trader knocks on the door trying to get to the bottom of who stole the pack of gums.
Terrified of a potential curse, William runs into the forest and tries to vomit up the gum. After not being able to do that, he confesses everything to his dad, who later apprises the trader that William was not aware of the gum’s questionable origins. Trywell (William’s dad) pays a full week’s wages to compensate for the loss.
Trywell, William’s father, is not a superstitious man but loves to tell traditional magic stories.
One of his favorites revolves around the Battle of Kasungu – according to which a young princess was killed by a rhino, and then a magic hunter was hired to put an end to the threat.
Trywell prefers to be a traveling trader, rather than a farmer under the rule of President Hastings Banda who freed Malawy from Britain.
This new system of authoritative governance suits the traders and pretty much every tier of Malawi society. Trywell shares his encounters with the Yao (Muslim Traders) who rage terror on Chewa people in an effort to bring them under their submissive rule.
Without David Livingstone (Scottish Missionary), the conflict between Chewa and the Yao would still be in full swing – even today. Trywell manages to resist the temptation to gamble and shies away from prostitutes while on the move. As a result, he earns the nickname – The Pope.
He enjoys good music and even ends up spending a night in jail after managing to overpower 12 security guards while attending a concert.
He agrees on converting to Christianity to get out of prison and live a better life for him and his family.
About the time William is 9 years old, the family is saddened by the loss of Uncle John. Later that day, William’s other uncles Musaiwale and Socrates arrive and manage to organize a proper funeral for John.
Mister Ngwata comes out of the closet and contends that now the village should show solidarity and help John’s children with basic needs such as clothing, food, and school. While addressing the crowd, the gravediggers have dug up a hole in a traditional Malawi style, to put John’s coffin down.
This sequence of events caused by Uncle John’s death leaves many things unsettled. Life on the farm becomes hard, and the entire family suffers because Jeremiah (John’s eldest son) doesn’t have what it takes to harvest the crops and look after the farm.
In the meantime, President Muzuli enacts new policies regarding farming. Simultaneously, William can no longer count on outside help to grow tobacco, because his family can’t afford additional workers.
It is 2000, William (13-years old), Gilbert, and Geoffrey are all grown up and spend less time hunting and more time playing bawo – a traditional Malawi game. He is also passionate about soccer, and cheers for MTL Nomads; but his enthusiasm wavers as he grows older.
William and Geoffrey are keen to find out how radios and other machinery works. They even go as far as dismantling and then reconstructing the radios to find the secret sauce.
Through trial and error, they learn how to connect circuit board by utilizing plastic and wires. In a little while, they launch their own radio-fixing business but need a stable power source. They search for batteries even in trash cans and are discouraged when no elderly can explain how the engines work.
William gets up at 4 am every day, to take advantage of the morning-breeze and produce enough crop that could last for an entire year. He goes to bed each night dreaming about his tech-oriented ambitions.
William tries to untangle the clues on how to make the radio work. Bicycle dynamo seems like a feasible option, and he reckons that by attaching small metal lamps to the wheels, he can turn the light switch on.
Things start on the wrong foot at first, but in next to no time the radio works. It is of crucial importance to mention that almost 98% of all Malawians have no access to electricity and as a result, they hit the bed when it gets dark.
Deforestation is the main culprit for power shortages, and it occurs due to the need for making tobacco fields. Gilbert, unlike most families, can afford electricity, and William is interested to find out how a single touch can light the entire place.
He decides to focus on school, for the time being, because getting good grades will pave the way for success. One day, accompanied by Gilbert, William visits the trading center. There, he lays eyes upon many women who cannot feed their families and offer to work for anyone in the fields.
Trywell says to William that the (Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation) has enough food surplus in case of shortages, and will distribute it to the peasants.
Nonetheless, this enthusiasm is soon shattered, when William overhears that President Banda has sold the grain reserves to foreign countries.
Chapter Six & Seven
Agnes (William’s mother) gives birth to another baby girl. At first, they are preoccupied with the name, as they believe a meaningful name will help her throughout life.
On Sunday, Agnes sees a group of young men who talk to Annie and castigates her for her wrongdoings – since Malawian women aren’t allowed to speak with men without permission.
She explains that they ask for directions, but later when Agnes returns from the market, she finds a letter in Annie’s room. Agnes frowns as she rereads the letter in which Annie apprises them of her decision to tie the knot with Mike (a teacher).
Both Agnes and Trywell react outrageously, but there’s little they can do at this point.
The price of maize is on the rise; people starve and do unimaginable things to survive. One father sells his two daughters; women are attacked on their way home and deprived of the food they’ve purchased – literally, there is a lot of scamming with no end in sight.
Agnes is no longer able to make many hotcakes, and the family starts to lose money. The government continues to promote ineptitude in dealing with the crisis, and people begin to withdraw money from the banks for fear of being scammed on another field as well.
Sadly, the students cannot concentrate on the studies, and William soon finds out that it’s a lot harder to deal with hunger in school rather than on the field. With no money to pay the school fees, William informs Gilbert that he’ll walk away.
Chapter Eight & Nine
In the next chapter, the author describes the death of Khamba (William’s dog).
A several weeks after Khamba’s demise – hell breaks loose in terms of a cholera epidemic. The situation is so severe that people die within a time-frame of 5-6 hours after the first symptoms.
The Malawi communities crumble deeper on a daily basis, either from disease or hunger. Trywell starts to lose weight rapidly, and Agnes forbids her children to weigh themselves.
The next harvest of dowe and pumpkins brings people from the brink of death. The town starts to rejuvenate as people enjoy chattering about many things but it will take more time for the village to heal itself.
As everyday life goes on, students enroll back in school programs. Unfortunately for William, his family still doesn’t have enough money for him to continue learning. He reckons that in order to catch up with his classmates, he should start reading.
Gilbert gives him the lowdown on these English books, but it is too hard for William to learn everything on his own. William continues exploring many books including “Explaining Physics” which he finds amusing and educational.
He begins to ponder about the utility of a windmill and how it can act as a power generator to replace the kerosene lamps. William needs a dynamo to build the prototype but lacks the funds. Helped by Gilbert and armed with knowledge, he begins to locate the missing pieces for his windmill.
Chapter Ten & Eleven
Trywell wants his son to go to school because he knows that relying on the mercy of the harvest is a tough life to live. Headmaster Phiri informs everybody that the grace period is over, and the students have to pay a yearly subscription in order to attend classes.
Unable to cover the expenses due to the debts incurred during the time of the famine, William is expelled. He goes back to the crops, and have their best year. They stock up on supplies while William begins to work on his windmill.
He spends time in the library, trying to understand how the nuts and bolts can be connected to the blades of the rotor. At one point, William realizes that only a generator separates him from having the full collection.
Gilbert manages to procure one, and the build-up commences. They start by creating the frame and attaching the bicycle and dynamo to the tractor fan.
People gather around and spread the rumor that William has gone crazy. To everyone’s shock, the light-bulb flickers and people scream in joy and amazement.
For the next couple of months, people from all over the country come to see this invention with their own eyes.
Chapter Twelve & Thirteen
William now faces a tough challenge ahead – to charge his cousin’s phone. Evidently, it will take more power than usual. He tries to circumvent the lack of power by building a step-up transformer, like the ones located in Europe and America.
After two months, he finally manages to purchase a battery. To charge it, he is compelled to shift from AC to DC by utilizing a diode from an old radio. He has to deal with many problems that his windmill generates, but he is willing to find a long-term solution.
In like manner, he looks high and low to find another potential project. He sets his heart on building a radio-transmitter. While engrossed in his technological endeavors, his mother decides to hit the road with an intention in mind to visit her parents.
She comes back infected with malaria.
The whole Malawian society is swarming with infection and death. There are some severe health problems such as the spread of HIV added to the threat of bad harvest.
Despite the present predicament, William is summoned and designated as the head of a science club due to his accomplishments.
Chapter Fourteen & Fifteen
Dr. Mchazime arrives at Wimbe and asks to speak with William. He wants to know more about the windmill boy and even invites a renowned journalist to interview him. The journalist is eager to know more of William’s vision of Malawi, and how this power-supply generator will make that come true.
The Kamkwamba family is excited and gets together around the radio to hear of William’s latest endeavors.
His work appeared on many newspapers and even picks up International fame. With the help of Dr. Mchazime, William is scheduled to appear at TEDGlobal.
Tom Rielly, is bewildered and impressed by William’s achievements, especially if you take into consideration his educational background. During the summit, William is uplifted by the presence of many young Africans who share their ideas that could put an end to the plight of millions.
Many people are keen to fund William’s future projects and education. With the money he receives, he helps his parents get proper medical care, and even go as far as paying for Gilbert’s school tuition.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind Epilogue
William is on a plane to Cape Town, South Africa. He ought to address the economic situation in developing countries at the World Economic Forum (2008) on Africa.
His path is weaved around the idea of prosperous Africa while erasing the mistakes from the past.
William expands on the process which led to the creation of the windmill, and even briefs president Mutharika about the path he alongside Geoffrey and Gilbert had to cross to make it work.
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“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind PDF Quotes”So many things around you are reusable. Where other see garbage, I see opportunity. Click To Tweet I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart. Click To Tweet Few people realize this, but cutting down the trees is one of the things that keeps us Malawians poor. Click To Tweet Cool! Where did you get such an idea? The library. Click To Tweet Maize is just another word for white corn, and by the end of this story, you won't believe how much you know about corn. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
This life-altering and mind-blowing story revolve around a single quote – If you want to make it, all you have to do is try!
It sounds like a straightforward route, but many of us veer off course. Let William’s path inspire you and help you achieve your goals.