Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Inspiration in Africa

Well, I've been away from the blog for quite some time. I just got married about a month ago and have been on my honeymoon since...well, we stopped through Intersolar 2007 so I'll blog on that too...but anyway that's kept me away from the computer! In the meantime Heliotropic has gotten a lot of attention as a "blog of note" - quite cool.

What I wanted to post on tonight is something quite incredible: The blog of a 19 year old Malawian secondary student, William Kamkwamba.

This is an extraordinary blog for many reasons. First, he started this blog only 2 weeks after learning about the internet at the TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania.

Mr. Kamkwamba was attending this conference because of the work he's been doing in is village to provide his family with electricity -- building a wind turbine entirely out of scrap materials and wood, and armed only with his intellect, junior-high education and a book on electricity.

It's an almost unbelievable story...but it is also quite inspiring. Can you imagine what just a little help (books, light to read by, internet access) can do to help people in these communities that are already motivated to improve their lives and hungry for knowledge?

Now, it's clear to me that Kamkwamba is absolutely exceptional and actually something of a genius. Nonethless - there is no greater demonstration of the human potential that is tragically untapped in Africa due a lack of resources in education, basic health care, and infrastructure that we take for granted.

On the positive side, it is incredible to see people like Kamkwamba work with what they have to improve their own lives and it shows that there are any number of ways to solve a problem with the resources at hand. It is truly appropriate technology; if (when) the windmill breaks, he will readily be able to fix it, because he built it himself and the parts are readily available in his community. No need to parachute in expensive parts or specialists from Europe, the US, or even the capital city.

It's the very definition of appropriate technology.

16 comments:

silvicone said...

Very usefull article indeed. 10x.
more of this here
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offsprog said...

I've recently blogged about this young man too, and he truly is an inspiration to everyone not only in Africa, but all over the world. His blog is most definitely worth reading all the way through and adding to your reader.

Tom R. said...

As his American mentor, I can assure you that William's story is quite true. I've just returned from Malawi and if anything, he's more exceptional that he comes across on the blog.

Cheers,
Tom
TED Conferences

samula kensegaard said...

i just want to thank everyone for rallying to shut down the very vulgar and anti-natural energy blog, Wildmans High:

nateandjoe.blogspot.com

Although we haven't been able to stop them, our efforts have not been in vain. We've sent a stern and harsh message indeed. Thanks all!

LOVE AND IMMIGRATION CRIER said...

Thanks for introducing us to this young talent.What is your impression of Africa?

Cordelia said...

Perfect ! Have you heard of this story, coming out of the "enlightened" US, NJ in particular ? A man has been forbidden to keep his backyard windmill. It originally appeared in the Asbury Park Press, but the only link I could find still carrying the story is here: http://newjerseypoliticsunusual.blogspot.com/2007/07/stop-your-global-whining.

Anonymous said...

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Ruth Anne said...

something to strive for

(experiment #9)

Thatsnews said...

This is a great story and shows what can be done on the individual level.

vargas said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. I'm glad you gave this new blogger some exposure! Awesome!

Bill Donovan said...

Thanks, that is really interesting. I read about some grants that Rolex provides to people who do innovative things to better peoples lives. If you search there website it is easy to find. I am going to read some more of your blog now

Mostly Water said...

This is truly inspiring.
I wish more people were more self sufficient and provided for their own level of life in a clean, healthier manner.

It gives me a push in the right direction.

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Andy said...

Interesting, lotys of untapped potential & talent in Africa!

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Paris said...

Nice stuff!!