This is thee extraordinary true story of a Malawian teenager who transformed his village by building electric windmills out of junk is the subject of a new book, 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind'.
Self-taught William Kamkwamba against-all-odds achievements are all the more remarkable considering he was forced to quit school aged 14 because his family could no longer afford the £50-a-year fees. But this was not another tale of African potential thwarted by poverty.
Defence against hunger The teenager had a dream of bringing electricity and running water to his village.
In 2002 was one of Malawi's worst droughts, which killed thousands of people and left his family on the brink of starvation. Unable to attend school, he kept up his education by using a local library. Fascinated by science, his life changed one day when he picked up a tattered textbook and saw a picture of a windmill.
Mr Kamkwamba told the BBC News website: "I was very interested when I saw the windmill could make electricity and pump water. "I thought: 'That could be a defence against hunger. Maybe I should build one for myself'."
When not helping his family farm maize, he plugged away at his prototype, working by the light of a paraffin lamp in the evenings. But his ingenious project met blank looks in his community of about 200 people. "Many, including my mother, thought I was going crazy," he recalls. "They had never seen a windmill before."
Neighbours were further perplexed at the youngster spending so much time scouring rubbish tips.
"William Kamkwamba's achievements with wind energy show what one person, with an inspired idea,
can do to tackle the crisis we face" said Al Gore
Mr Kamkwamba, who is now 22 years old, knocked together a turbine from spare bicycle parts, a tractor fan blade and an old shock absorber, and fashioned blades from plastic pipes, flattened by being held over a fire. "I got a few electric shocks climbing that [windmill]," says Mr Kamkwamba, ruefully recalling his months of painstaking work.
The finished product - a 5-m (16-ft) tall blue-gum-tree wood tower, swaying in the breeze over Masitala - seemed little more than a quixotic tinkerer's folly. But his neighbours' mirth turned to amazement when Mr Kamkwamba scrambled up the windmill and hooked a car light bulb to the turbine. As the blades began to spin in the breeze, the bulb flickered to life and a crowd of astonished onlookers went wild. Soon the whiz kid's 12-watt wonder was pumping power into his family's mud brick compound.
Out went the paraffin lanterns and in came light bulbs and a circuit breaker, made from nails and magnets off an old stereo speaker, and a light switch cobbled together from bicycle spokes and flip-flop rubber. Before long, locals were queuing up to charge their mobile phones.
WINDS OF CHANGE
2002: Drought strikes; he leaves school; builds 5m windmill
2006: Daily Times writes article on him; he builds a 12m windmill
2007: Brings solar power to his village and installs solar pump
Mid-2008: Builds Green Machine windmill, pumping well water
Sep 2008: Attends inaugural African Leadership Academy class
Mid-2009: Builds replica of original 5m windmill
He upgraded his original windmill to 48-volts and anchored it in concrete after its wooden base was chewed away by termites. Then he built a new windmill, dubbed the Green Machine, which turned a water pump to irrigate his family's field. Before long, visitors were traipsing from miles around to gawp at the boy prodigy's magetsi a mphepo - "electric wind".
As the fame of his renewable energy projects grew, he was invited in mid-2007 to the prestigious Technology Entertainment Design conference in Arusha, Tanzania.
He has since gone around the world tlking about this, including appearing on the Daily Show with John Stewart. This is a clip from youtube
The Philosophy of Marx by Etienne Balibar - The Philosophy of Marx By Etienne Balibar (translated by Gregory Elliot and Chris Turner) Verso, 2017 240 pp., $38.95 Etienne Balibar notes ‘The general i...
2 days ago