In the last blog post, we talked about the clever toys made by children in Africa from scrap materials and the effectiveness of toys from trash as teaching tools in India.
One 14 year old boy in Malawi went much further than making a galimoto or homemade toy vehicle. When his family’s poverty forced him to drop out of school, William Kamkwamba taught himself how to construct a working windmill out of scrap metal and spare parts, successfully producing enough energy from his invention to generate electricity and running water in his village.
The story of William’s “electric wind” eventually spread around the world, making him a famous young African innovator who finally achieved his dream of studying science – in some of the best schools in Africa and the United States.
William Kamkwamba has told his story in a bestselling biography co-authored with Bryan Mealer, titled The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. You can read about his life, the Moving Windmills Project he started to support education and development in Malawi, and the film documentary which is being made about him. His work has been exhibited in science museums, and he speaks to audiences in many countries.
“William will challenge everything you have thought about Africa, about young people, and about the power of one person to transform a community. This beautifully written book will open your heart and mind. I was moved by William and his story and believe you all will [sic]. Essential, powerful and compelling.”
—Chris Abani, Nigerian author
Our blogger met William when he was invited to attend and speak at Maker Faire Africa in Accra, Ghana. The conference took place August 14th to 16th.
“There were about 100 people there and so many of them shared my interest in inventing low-cost solutions to African engineering problems.”
- William Kamkwamba
What you can do
Put The Boy who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer on your wishlist in case it can be acquired by your school, a donor, your neighborhood library or a bookstore in your community.
Learn how William made his windmill by following the drawings.