Inspiration: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

This is the first in the series of posts I am planning to publish on the topic of inspiration.


William KamkwambaThis is the story of one boy’s indefatigable spirit. Spirit to save his family from hunger and from poverty. William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, Africa. He was fourteen when he was forced to drop out of school in 2002, for lack of money to pay the school-fee. In the same year, Malawi was hit by the worst famine in 50 years, forcing thousands across the country to die of starvation. As a boy, he was always enchanted by the workings of the electricity and the wonders it can do. He had a goal to study science in Malawi’s top boarding schools.

with windmillHe refused to surrender to fate even after getting dropped out of school. He gained access to a local library where he continued his education. When he saw the picture of a windmill in a book, he was fascinated to know that electricity can be produced by harnessing wind power. He thought, this would be his defense against hunger and decided to build a windmill for himself.

People in the neighborhood thought he was crazy when he actually started working on the windmill using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves. But, he persisted till he produced electricity from his own windmill which powered few bulbs in his house and a radio to start with.

Watch the following videos to know more about this exceptional story of the African teenager who took the destiny into his hands. Get inspired!

Video: William Kamkwamba speaking at the TEDGlobal Conference July 2009 in Oxford UK.

Video: William Kamkwamba’s  first talk in public at TEDGlobal 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania.

Video: Following is the short film ‘Moving Windmills’ which is being made into a feature-length documentary

William Kamkwamba, with the help of  Bryan Mealer as a co-author, written a  new book about his story of building the windmill.

Book: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The first chapter starts with the following line:

Before I discovered the miracle of science, magic ruled the world.

I am planning to order the book from BetterWorldBooks.

Hope you liked this post. Please use comments form to share your thoughts.

Images are taken from

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  1. Posted October 1, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Hi Chandu,
    Brillant piece.


  2. Posted October 5, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Thats truly inspiring. What make it outstanding is Williams persistence determination to make it happen. Most of us would have left it in between if we were to try anything like that. Chandu, we tried an FM transmitter while at engineering, it was a failure. Look at this guy, he did not even finish school and he is a role model. This story is more than just inspiring, I feel humbled and ashamed of myself, I’ve so much and I’ve achieved so less.

    Keep writing in more such stories, we can at least better ourselves.

    • Posted October 5, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Even, I remembered our FM transmitter experiment when I first saw this windmill stuff. We had everything except the determination to see it through the end.

      Good to know that you found this post inspiring.

      You are right. William’s story is more than inspiration.

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