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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hopeby Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba
Synopses & Reviews
William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala — crazy — but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.
Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi's top boarding schools. But in 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family's farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the eighty-dollar-a-year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.
Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. With nothing more than a fistful of cornmeal in his stomach, a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks, and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to bring his family a set of luxuries that only two percent of Malawians could afford and what the West considers a necessity — electricity and running water. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves, William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights, complete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.
Soon, news of William's magetsi a mphepo — his electric wind — spread beyond the borders of his home, and the boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to those around the world.
Here is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.
"American readers will have their imaginations challenged by 14-year-old Kamkwamba's description of life in Malawi, a famine-stricken, land-locked nation in southern Africa: math is taught in school with the aid of bottle tops ('three Coca-Cola plus ten Carlsberg equal thirteen'), people are slaughtered by enemy warriors 'disguised... as green grass' and a ferocious black rhino; and everyday trading is 'replaced by the business of survival' after famine hits the country. After starving for five months on his family's small farm, the corn harvest slowly brings Kamkwamba back to life. Witnessing his family's struggle, Kamkwamba's supercharged curiosity leads him to pursue the improbable dream of using 'electric wind'(they have no word for windmills) to harness energy for the farm. Kamkwamba's efforts were of course derided; salvaging a motley collection of materials, from his father's broken bike to his mother's clothes line, he was often greeted to the tune of 'Ah, look, the madman has come with his garbage.' This exquisite tale strips life down to its barest essentials, and once there finds reason for hopes and dreams, and is especially resonant for Americans given the economy and increasingly heated debates over health care and energy policy." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This immensely engaging tale relates how an enterprising teenager in Malawi builds a windmill from scraps he finds around his village and brings electricity — and a future — to his family.
An exciting new voice offers a fresh portrait of Africans thriving in the face of adversity, showing the way forward for development on the continent and beyond.
An account of child genius Taylor Wilsonand#8217;s successful quest to build his own nuclear reactor at the age of fourteen, and an exploration of how gifted children can be nurtured to do extraordinary things.
How an American teenager became the youngest person ever to build a working nuclear fusion reactorand#160;
By the age of nine, Taylor Wilson had mastered the science of rocket propulsion. At eleven, his grandmotherandrsquo;s cancer diagnosis drove him to investigate new ways to produce medical isotopes. And by fourteen, Wilson had built a 500-million-degree reactor and become the youngest person in history to achieve nuclear fusion. How could someone so young achieve so much, and what can Wilsonandrsquo;s story teach parents and teachers about how to support high-achieving kids?
In The Boy Who Played with Fusion, science journalist Tom Clynes narrates Taylor Wilsonandrsquo;s extraordinary journeyandmdash;from his Arkansas home where his parents fully supported his intellectual passions, to a unique Reno, Nevada, public high school just for academic superstars, to the present, when now nineteen-year-old Wilson is winning international science competitions with devices designed to prevent terrorists from shipping radioactive material into the country. Along the way, Clynes reveals how our education system shortchanges gifted students, and what we can do to fix it.
The path to progress in Africa lies in the surprising and innovative solutions Africans are finding for themselves
Africa is a continent on the move. Itandrsquo;s often hard to notice, thoughandmdash;the Western focus on governance and foreign aid obscures the individual dynamism and informal social adaptation driving the past decade of African development. Dayo Olopade set out across sub-Saharan Africa to find out how ordinary people are dealing with the challenges they face every day. She discovered an unexpected Africa: resilient, joyful, and innovative, a continent of DIY changemakers and impassioned community leaders.
Everywhere Olopade went, she witnessed the specific creativity born from African difficultyandmdash;a trait she began calling kanju. Itandrsquo;s embodied by bootstrapping innovators like Kenneth Nnebue, who turned his low-budget, straight-to-VHS movies into a multimillion-dollar film industry known as Nollywood. Or Soyapi Mumba, who helped transform cast-off American computers into touchscreen databases that allow hospitals across Malawi to process patients in seconds. Or Ushahidi, the Kenyan technology collective that crowdsources citizen activism and disaster relief.
The Bright Continent calls for a necessary shift in our thinking about Africa. Olopade shows us that the increasingly globalized challenges Africa faces can and must be addressed with the tools Africans are already using to solve these problems themselves. Africaandrsquo;s ability to do more with lessandmdash;to transform bad government and bad aid into an opportunity to innovateandmdash;is a clear ray of hope amidst the dire headlines and a powerful model for the rest of the world.
About the Author
Bryan Mealer is the coauthor of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind with William Kamkwamba, and author of All Things Must Fight to Live, which details his experience reporting the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2003-07 for the Associated Press and Harper's. In 2008, he began working with William Kamkwamba, a 20-year-old inventor in Malawi, who, after dropping out of high school due to a crippling famine, began building windmills from tree branches, tractor and bicycle parts to bring electricity and irrigation to his home and village. Mealer was born in Odessa, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
William Kamkwamba was born in Dowa, Malawi, in 1987 and raised in Masitala village along the central plains. One of seven children born to sustenance farmers who grew maize and tobacco, his childhood was often interrupted by drought and hunger. After seeing windmills on the cover of an 8th-grade science book, he set out to build his own machine using scavenged parts from a scrap yard. His first windmill was made from PVC pipe, a tractor fan, an old bicycle frame, and tree branches, and powered four light bulbs and charge mobile phones. A second windmill pumped water for a family garden. He’s now a student at African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, and recently completed a biography: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope with coauthor Bryan Mealer.
Table of Contents
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Why the world needs a new map of Africa
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Walking the fine line between genius and crime
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;How bad borders made bad neighbors
4.and#160;Stuff We Donand#8217;t Wantand#8194;52
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;The mistakes that make do-gooding worse
5.and#160;The Family Mapand#8194;67
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;How Africans rely on the original social network
6.and#160;The Technology Mapand#8194;91
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Leapfrogs and lessons from Africaand#8217;s digital moment
7.and#160;The Commercial Mapand#8194;121
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;How to buyand#8212;and selland#8212;a better future in Africa
8.and#160;The Natural Mapand#8194;157
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Why Africa will feed, fuel, and shape the world
9.and#160;The Youth Mapand#8194;191
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Harvesting Africaand#8217;s demographic dividend
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;Whoand#8217;s in charge, anyway?
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