William Kamkwamba

Trailblazer of the week

William Kamkwamba is from Malwai. He is an inventor, innovator and engineer.

As a teenager, he had to drop out of high school because of the famine that hit Malawi for the first time in 50 years. This affected his village Masitala in Malawi and his family farm. His family could not afford his tuition fee anymore. This big challenge that looked as though that William’s promising future has been disrupted was a stepping stone for teenage William to be innovative. He started visiting the local library in his village established by the Americans through the help of an NGO in Malawi. He picked up a book, where he saw the picture of windmills.

A windmill also known as a wind turbine is a facility whose function is to make use of the power in the wind to generate useful energy for humans. In the past people used this energy to grind grain or pump water. Modern windmills turn wind energy into electrical power

Modern Windmill

This pictures inspired him to build his own windmill, with the aim of providing a steady source of water for his family farm. As a 14 year old teenage boy, he began to gather scrap parts of what most people would have abandoned and called rubbish comprising of a bicycle dynamo, bamboo poles, a tractor fan, rubber belts and a bike chain. He succeeded in building a functioning windmill that produced electricity for  his village. He spent the next five years of his life perfecting the design. This amazing invention attracted top professionals and media in the world.

He has an amazing picture book for children titled, “The boy who Harnessed the Wind” authored by him and journalist Bryan Mealer with pictures by Elizabeth Zunion. This book is a brilliant way to introduce children to his amazing story with great demonstration of entrepreneurial and scientific spirit.

I feel that there are so many people in my area or in the world who have great ideas but because of the circumstances they are not able to continue with their ideas. I wanted to share my story with them so that maybe it would be able to inspire them to achieve their dreams- William Kamkwamba

In September 2008, William started as one of 97 Inaugural students at the African Leadership Academy, a new pan African prep school based outside Johannesburg, South Africa whose mission is to educate the next generation with rigorous academics, ethical leadership training, entrepreneurship and design and graduated in June 2010. William later studied at Dartmouth college USA,  in the year 2010 with a major in environmental studies and a minor in engineering.

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