Book Review : The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by William Morrow
William Kamkwamba, the youthful author of this book, was born in Malawi, an African nation best known for its harrowing poverty, its AIDS epidemic, and its long-term food crisis. In 2001, William was just 14 years old when the country was struck by the greatest famine within memory. With his family now too poor to pay his $80-a-year tuition, this eager learner was forced to leave school. Against those staggering odds, he continued to read, learn, and experiment. Inspired by a few old school textbooks, he devised a primitive working windmill, cobbled together from bicycle parts, blue-gum trees, and other makeshift scraps. With his homemade invention, he gave his family and himself electricity and a new start. Inspiring and refreshing as the wind.
I started reading this book last year, but had to stop it halfway through because of my upcoming SPM exam. After the exam, I forgot about it until an online chat with a fellow friend on Facebook. I instantly picked up this book and continued to read where I last stopped. Good thing I put a bookmark inside.

The first half of the novel focuses on the situation in Malawi: poor farmers shedding their sweat and tears in their crops, politicians giving empty promises, famine striking the country once in a while and killing thousands, children couldn't continue their studies due to the expensive fees, uneducated people preferring to consult a magician instead of a doctor when they fall sick... the list goes on and on.

William is a normal boy who suffers the fate of most of the Malawians - he comes from a poor family whose parents are unable to send him to school for a long time. The cost is just too high for them to burden. However, instead of giving up, William chooses to go to the library to learn by himself. At first, he struggles to grasp English, but he chooses to reread the pages again and again until he is finally able to understand the meanings. He is very interested in Physics, and the book he found in the library proves to change his life in a way that he can never imagine. He learns about windmills - how they are used to generate electricity. With his understanding of the Physics concepts and his willingness to pick through junk to find the hidden gems, along with the support from his helpful friend, he manages to build a mini windmill which actually works - his first taste of success.

Following more success and a few failures, he eventually receives recognition internationally. He has the chance to continue his studies and visit other countries to learn about their technology. Going back to his country, he vows to make Malawi a better place in the future with his skills and knowledge. I loved how inspiring this book is, and a sentence that William mentioned in this book grips me entirely: If you want to do something, all you have to do is try.

Every teenager should read this amazing book and learn how knowledge, hard-work, perseverance and determination can make a difference.

Rating: 5

William Kamkwamba
William Kamkwamba was born August 5, 1987 in Malawi, and grew up on his family farm in Wimbe, two and half hours northeast of Malawi’s capital city. William was educated at Wimbe Primary School, completing 8th grade and was then accepted to secondary school. Due to severe famine in 2001-2002, his family lacked funds to pay $80 in school fees and William was forced to drop out in his freshman year. For five years he was unable to go to school. Rather than accept his fate, William borrowed books from a small community lending library, including an American textbook Using Energy, which depicted a wind turbine. He decided to build a windmill to power his family’s home. First he built a prototype, then his initial 5-meter windmill out of a broken bicycle, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber, and blue gum trees. He was able to power four light bulbs and two radios, and charge neighbors’ mobile phones. He then added a car battery for storage, as well as homemade light switches and circuit breakers. Subsequent projects have included clean water, malaria prevention, solar power and lighting for his family compound, a deep water well with a solar powered pump, a drip irrigation system, and the outfitting of the village team Wimbe United with uniforms and shoes. In September, 2008, William started as one of 97 inaugural students at the African Leadership Academy, a new pan-African prep school based outside of Johannesburg, South Africa whose mission is to educate the next generation with rigorous academics, ethical leadership training, entrepreneurship and design (

0 creative remarks: