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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Common Text 2019-2020)

FYE Common Text 2019-2020

Jon Stewart Inteviews William Kamkwamba

Biographical Info & Interviews

Biographical Info & Interviews


William Kamkwamba was born and raised in Malawi, a rural, impoverished village in South Eastern Africa.  He grew up in a large, happy family and contributed to his parents’ successful farm while attending school.  As famine strikes the larger region, William gives an intimate view of the epic struggles of his family and surrounding villages as food and resources become scarce and survival is no longer a given part of life.   Although the region slowly recovers -  with citizens questioning the political leadership - William’s family can no longer afford to send him to school.  While embracing cultural traditions and witnessing the courage and compassion of many of his citizens during times of crisis, William experiences a growing awareness of socio-political realities and begins to pull away from superstition and ignorance.    Naturally gifted and inquisitive about Science and Technology and girded with a strength built through the myriad challenges that his family and neighbors continually face, William envisions a possible solution to the dependency of his family and village on local leadership and the vicissitudes of nature: he scours the local library and scavenges the bleak margins of his village's terrain, inspired by early projects creating energy with bicycle “dynamos,” and embarks on a monumentally self-directed mission to create electricity from windmills virtually on his own, filling in the gaps of textbook knowledge with experimentation, hope, and determination.