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Malawi: Of Sports and the Windmill boy-Kamkwamba

Though in general the blogosphere has been quiet, a lot has been happening in Malawi in recent weeks.

Just this past weekend, Malawi drew 1-1 against the much feared Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire which features the Chelsea player Didier Drogba. The game took place Kamuzu Stadium in Malawi. Buckaro Thandi made a post praising Malawi's hard work against the Elephants:

In a brief post she writes:

congratulations on the draw with Cote d'Ivoire. That's super. Flames woyee, inenso woyee!

In an earlier post, she laments at the lack of seriousness of the electricity generating body in Malawi ESCOM. She does not seem to believe the report that only 2 percent of Malawi have access to electricity (the truth being 8 percent). On this she then diverts to one of probably the most inspiring stories about the 21-year old William Kamwamba who about seven years ago made a windmill-a development after which a book has just been published.

The book is titled The Boy who Harnessed the Wind.

The windmill he made was able to generate electricity to light bulbs and run a radio set in his home. William came to limelight about three years ago when a Daily Times reporter followed his story in Kasungu  about 150 kilometers north of Malawi's capital. Now a student at the Africa Leadership Academy, William has made Malawi proud as he makes headlines and becomes more present online.

Ndagha captures his personal interaction with the boy:

As I interacted with him, I could sense the passion he has for making a difference in the eletronics in Malawi and beyond. He has a heart for the underprivileged especially that his own story illustrates the challenges facing his family and many Malawi. He is a young man that is determined to see change regardless of the status quo. It appears to me that as he gets more and more exposed, his anger at the energy situation in Malawi is increasing. When the right time comes, for sure he will do greater things.

So while the blogosphere may have been quiet, a lot of action is on and the world is talking.

3 comments

  • William Kamkwamba’s work has inspired people all over the world. I am working with a group in Cambridge MA to start an energy curriculum in our city’s youth centers and one proposal is to include his story to empower our teenagers.

    William will be speaking at MIT next week and I will go to see him.

    The innovation and spirit I see coming out of Africa today is amazing and inspiring to me. The problems they are working on have relevance all around the world, for the “developed” as well as the “developing.”

  • John B Mal

    As an African I am slightly disturbed by the publicity around this story. The western press have a tendency to shy away from real African achievements and concentrate on the negatives. Is it possible that the western press’ coverage of this story is more due to their stereotypes than good faith? The image of an African with the most of primitive windmills (even more primitive that what European made 500 years ago) seem to endorse the West’s stereotypes of Africa. By praising this, they are actually endorsing their perception that Africa is dull, so dull that anyone who makes a primitive windmill is a genius ..

    Lets be honest – if the young uneducated person from Boston had made the same thing will there be publicity about it? Of course not. The only reason you have this publicity is because of the belief that Africans are dull.

  • In reply to John B Mal: I agree that the story can be taken in the manner you have described and it is unfortunate that many people do think in this way. On the other hand, I think the goal was not to discriminate but highlight someone taking their situation in life into their own hands and working at improving it. It is too bad that this sometimes has a negative effect because of the way the message is delivered.

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