William Kamkwamba: The Boy Who Harnessed The Hearts Of The World

1292 words - 5 pages

In 2009 one young man changed the lives of thousands by telling his story of hardship, survival and innovation to the world. The book, "The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind" by William Kamkwamba reveals in great detail the complete blindness that our western society possesses regarding the truth of life on the continent of Africa. As citizens of the western world we have a tendency to see only the statistics and politics of the wars, famines and disasters that occur in developing countries while failing to even consider the human beings struck down by them. In this detachment we pass judgement upon the entire nation as a whole, forgetting the millions who do more in a single day with what little they have than we do with our abundance in a lifetime. Far more often than not it is the discordant few who illiberally command the lives of the impoverished many. It is in this oversight that we often miss the stories of survival and heroism of the African people that are as rampant as prosperity is scarce. With his incredible account, William Kamkwamba guides us to the illumination of this fact.

The setting for Williams' story was one of the worst hunger crises ever known to the small country of Malawi in south central Africa. The devastating famine of 2002 was brought into effect by circumstances owing to both the countries’ capricious weather and its own highly corrupt government. According to Joshua Hammer of Newsweek, Malawi’s food reserves were sold off to the highest bidder and the payment with which to replace the reserves used in the building of a grand hotel immediately prior to a mass drought followed by flooding. This led directly to famine without any means of survival for thousands of impecunious Malawian citizens (28). William, his parents and six sisters were among those at the epicentre of the disaster. Due to the lack of food and funds William was forced to drop out of school and took to reading books from the local three shelf library in an attempt to keep up his studies. Using only the diagrams from his most cherished book, “Using Energy”, William built his own windmill from junk yard scraps and eventually supplied his entire family with electricity and water. Inspired by the despair of his countries' situation, William heroically brought hope and opportunity to the entire nation.

The struggles of William and his people touched me deeply and moved me to wonder if anything had been done to help the Malawians in their time of need. Were such a catastrophe to occur in the United States the outcry of the public would only be outdone by the victims of the problem themselves. Yet in Malawi what few questions were put to their tyrannical government were crushed with an iron fist and there was nothing more to be said. Thus it was from the hands of foreign powers that some small relief came. Michael Wines of The New York Times reported that the United States in association with the World Food Program stepped in almost immediately to...

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