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Inspiring story of a young genius,
This review is from: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Paperback)
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In the developed world, innovation is seen as something of a luxury. True, there is currently some serious concern about global warming and the need for greener living, but for most people this is a minor concern that we pay more lip service to than anything else. Generally we carry on, mostly doing what we have always done, safe in the knowledge that everything we need (or think we need) is readily available and widely affordable. Having travelled and made friends in North Africa over the last few years, I can vouch that principles like innovation and recycling, which we may embrace but don't fully understand, are raised to an art form there, out of sheer necessity.
And it is this necessity which drives William Kamkwamba, author, inventor, and inspiration. He spends most of the book laying the groundwork of the story, helping us to understand the culture of Malawi from politics to folklore to everyday life. His description of the drought and ensuing famine that threaten to destroy his village is particularly vivid, bringing home in a way that is both understandable and shocking to the core a disaster that most of us will be fortunate enough to never experience. Given the circumstances, it is easy to see why a picture of a windmill struck such a chord with young William - here was a way to ensure his family would never starve again! And yet his determination to complete and perfect his project despite a lack of schooling, funds and materials, and in the face of overwhelming prejudice from his community, is what makes this story such an inspiration. One young boy with so many odds against him managed to change the quality of life for his entire village.
The story is straightforward and well told, and ultimately a lesson just as moving as one might hope for on picking up this book. As for my copy, it is now in Morocco, appropriated by a teacher who is starting an English language library for children in his village. It may be time for me to buy a second copy!