William Kamkwamba was born in the village of Masitala in the West African country of Malawi. He dropped out of primary school because his family could not afford school fees due to poverty. This did not, however, stop his curiosity and love for education. He regularly checked out books from the local library. When he read the books Explaining Physics and Using Energy, he found a solution to the issue of lack of light which used to force him to go to bed earlier at night because it was dark. Impressed by the pictures of windmills in the book Using Energy, he decided to build his own.
Initially people in his village thought he was crazy when they could not conceptualize or understand what he was doing. Only after he built the first windmill and saw that he powered a light bulb and a radio did people recognize that he was up to something useful. Unfortunately, even with such achievement, he could not afford to pursue his education because he did not have money.
His breakthrough came when an education official heard what he has done despite being out of school for five years. Not only did he arrange for him to attend school paid by the government, but also brought the media to see his windmills. His story appeared in the Malawi Daily Mail. His story caught the attention of many and was even invited to speak at the TED Global conference in Tanzania in 2007. In recognition of his hard work and faith in his ingenuity, he got funding for his education and projects including drilling a borehole for a well and water pump to offer clean water to the village. William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer are the co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind which has been translated in more than a dozen languages. The Netflix film adaptation of his book directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film festival. Mr. Kamkwamba continues to work hard to empower youth in Malawi. He believes that “talent is universal, opportunity is not”