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27/06/2014: INTRODUCING WILLIAM KAMKWAMBA, THE AUTHOR OF “THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND”

REMARKS BY H.E. STEVE D. MATENJE, S.C., INTRODUCING WILLIAM KAMKWAMBA, THE AUTHOR OF “THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND” AT THE “MOVING WINDMILLS” EVENT HELD IN HIS HONOUR AT THE OFFICIAL RESIDENCE OF THE AMBASSADOR OF MALAWI TO THE UNITED STATES, THURSDAY, JUNE 2014

Your Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Let me start by thanking each and everyone of you for joining us this evening at this event honoring William Kamkwamba, the Malawian author of the internationally – acclaimed book: “The boy Who Harnessed the Wind”.

 

William’s story is truly an incredible and amazing story.  It is a story of hope, of determination and of courage of a young Malawian man who refused to be prevented by abject poverty to attain his dreams.  It is a story that has captivated the world in many ways.  Walter Isaacson, the author of the books “Einstein” and “Benjamin Franklin” has described it as follows:

 

“This is an amazing, inspiring, and heartwarming story!  It’s about harnessing the power not just of the wind, but of imagination and ingenuity.  Those are the most important forces we have for saving our planet”

Indeed, William harnessed the power of imagination to create light at the end of the tunnel for the millions across the world who are struggling every day to just make ends meet.  In doing so, he demonstrated that, given the opportunity and the means, all people – rich or poor, big or small, black or white-are capable, through the power of imagination and creativity, of shaping and transforming their own future and destiny and those of their communities, be it in Africa, in the U.S. or anywhere else across the world.

 

William was born in Malawi on August 5, 1987 in a poor family of farmers.  He dropped out of school because his father was unable to pay school fees following a severe drought in Malawi in 2002 that destroyed his father’s crops.  Undeterred by that misfortune, William taught himself how to build a windmill from scrap metal and homemade materials after reading a science book at his village school library.  He used the windmill to generate light for his parents’ house and pump water from his family well for domestic use and to irrigate his father’s vegetable garden.  The availability of electricity and potable water helped reduce poverty in William’s family.  What followed is truly remarkable.

 

After making his windmill and without a school certificate, William enrolled at African Bible Christian College in Malawi and then at African Leadership Academy, a pan – African High School in South Africa before finding his way to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental science on June 8, 2014. By the way, the immediate past President of Dartmouth College is no other than the current President of the World Bank.    William has been invited to tell his story at various international meetings including the World Economic Forum on Africa and TED Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, and Cambridge, England.  He has also appeared on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and Good Morning America on ABC television.  His book has been translated into more than 15 languages.  Currently efforts are underway to translate the book in Malawi’s vernacular language, Chichewa.

 

Malawi has enormous untapped potential.  William represents that potential and the future and potential of its next generation.

 

To you, William, I say thank you for putting our country, Malawi, on the map and helping to bring hope to under – privileged children in Malawi. To my friend, Tom Reily, who unfortunately is not with us today due to illness, and William’s parents in the U.S., Andrea and Bill, thank you for all you do to support William to achieve his dreams.   To our children in the U.S., I say count yourselves lucky for the opportunity to live in the U.S., a country with enormous wealth.  Use this opportunity to be creative and innovative, not only to transform your own lives and your communities but also to make this world a better place for all to live.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no one else who can tell you this incredible story better than “The Boy who Harnessed the Wind” himself.

 

Therefore, it is a great pleasure for me to invite William Kamkwamba to tell you his story.  Thank you for your attention.