themcglynn.com

09 Oct

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

William Kamkwamba (born 1987) is a Malawian secondary student and inventor. He gained fame in his country when, in 2001, he self-built a windmill to power a few electrical appliances in his family’s house in Masitala, a hamlet in Kasungu District, Central Region. He built this windmill using such components as blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard. Since then, he has built two other windmills in his village (the tallest stands at 39 feet) and has planned to build two others, including one that will stand in Lilongwe.

Kamkwamba is self-taught, and learned how to build windmills after having looked at a photograph and explanation of one in a library book called Using Energy. He started to build windmills after he left school because his family could not pay the USD $80 tuition as a result of the famine in Malawi at the time.

His story is given in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, written by himself and journalist Bryan Mealer, published in 2009 (ISBN 9780061730320). Kamkwamba took part in the first event celebrating his particular type of ingenuity, called Maker Faire Africa, which took place in Ghana in August 2009.

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