Due to family circumstances, William Kankwamba had to drop out of school. He was born into a low-income family whose only means of livelihood was farming. Although he dropped out, William did not let that stop his education- he continued learning via the local library. He read often. One day he got a book titled “Using Energy”; he saw how windmills could be made.
With a windmill, electricity could be generated, and with electricity, water can be pumped. It occurred to Williams that creating a windmill would solve a major problem for his family and his whole village. He got to work. At first, everyone around him kept telling him that he was insane and crazy, but the young boy would not give up. He continued. He was just 14 at that time. After some months, his first windmill was ready. To the amazement of everyone in the village, the windmill generated electricity; it powered a radio.
Boomer! It was celebrations everywhere. But Williams was not done. He developed a better windmill, this time a bigger one that could pump water and provide electricity for his village. A few months later, that’s what he did.
Soon, Williams became a globally renowned hero. He was invited to Ted to deliver a talk; even as he got on the stage, you could still see that his English was rusty. His English was not good at all. But he was a learned man, and he was a person who could follow through and apply what he saw in books. Williams received many scholarships worldwide. He eventually graduated from Africa Leadership Academy and Dartmouth College. He returned home, continued building windmills, solving a big problem in his country, and established a school to educate his community members.
Williams has inspired so many people around the world. His book, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, is an international best-selling book that has been turned into a movie by Netflix.
In the Ted Talk he first delivered, he was asked, “how did you do it?” his reply was, “After I dropped out of school, I went to the library, I read a book about the windmill. I tried, and I made it”.