by William Kamkwamba and Brian Mealer
Non-fiction, 288 pages
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was inspirational. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was the selected book during the Tacoma Reads Together Program which started briefly after 9/11. The purpose was to bring the community together through events that hopefully lead into discussion. Other cities also began similar programs. I was lucky enough to attend a book talk with the author.
William Kamkwamba grew up in a small village in the struggling country of Malawi. Malawi is an African country known for its poverty, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, food shortage, low life expectancy, and based with an agriculture economy. The book describes a boy who wanted to improve his family and village. Kamkwamba was forced to drop out of school, since his parents couldn’t pay the tuition. However, this didn’t stop him from learning and he constantly visited the library. There was a major food crisis and the book went into detail about death and daily struggles that people went through to get food. Kamkwamba was only 14 when he stumbled upon a book about electricity from wind power. Malawi’s strong wind charged Kamkwamba to design a windmill to harness the wind to provide electricity. Nobody understood what he was doing and thought he was going crazy, but nothing stopped him. He finally designed his windmill with various scrap metal, including a bicycle, and was able to light a bulb and power a radio. Journalist noticed the success and Kamkwamba gained positive recognition and traveled to the United States to share his story. He continues building windmills to help his village with water for irrigation and electricity. I highly recommend this book for everyone.
There are so many times when individuals may want to give up or become discouraged from struggles. Kamkwamba’s story was so inspirational and moving even when others continually told him that he was wasting his time. They told him he was wasting his time, because others didn’t understand his vision. His simple windmill vision improved his village. Keep your vision alive and strive through life’s challenges.
William Kamkwamba’s message: If you want to do it, all you have to do is try.