There is so much of William Kamkwamba's story that I love. The strength and courage it required to face the consequences of famine in his native Malawi. The hope he had to muster in order to embark on a project of such ambition in a time of such hopelessness. The way in which he harnessed not just the wind with his windmill but both the magic of his culture married to the power of his own intellect. This video from 2007 captures how unique an individual he is.
However, and I really hate to have to say this, there was not as much to love about the book as I had hoped. Don't get me wrong. I am not sorry to have read it, but just like my experience with Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, I felt a disconnect from the person as his story is told by another that fails to capture the real spirit of the subject. We read sitting a level away, and even though the book delivers the expected emotional impact, there seems to sometimes be something missing, and even more bothersome, something manufactured about the content. The other unsatisfying parts (that prompted me to skim a little) were the technical explanations of the process which were of little interest to me. Love this story but only just liked the book. In parts.
Don't let this keep you from the book though. It is a wonderful story and you may find that it suits you well. Please check out these links to see and read more about William Kamkwamba's ongoing quest to improve the quality of life in Malawi.
- TEDGlobal Conference 2009 video
- William Kamkwamba's website
- The short film Moving Windmills that was turned into a feature length documentary