Malawi's own William Kamkwamba's story for locally constructing a windmill continues to gain world recognition as a documentary film produced under his story has recently won three awards in the United States of America. By Sylvester Kumwenda
In 2013 alone, the film has won the Grand Jury Prize at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, USA in March, the Best Documentary Prize at the Hardacre Film Festival in Tipton, Iowa, USA in July and has in October again won the Best Documentary Prize at the Flyway Film Festival in Pepin, Wisconsin, USA in October.
The film shot in Malawi, South Africa, and the United States of America (USA) from 2007 to 2013 and titled William and the Windmill is a feature length documentary telling the story of William's building of a windmill and his life after. The synopsis of the story says with only a library book as his guide, 14-year-old William Kamkwamba builds a windmill in his Malawian village that changes his life forever.
Using junk parts and an inexhaustible imagination, he harnesses enough energy to power a generator that saves his family from famine and resuscitates his dying farming community. An instant media sensation, the teen soon has the ability to chart a previously unimaginable future of Ivy League schools and speaking tours.
But despite the help of an American entrepreneur who helps navigate his success, some changes threaten to capsize him.
Asked on what impressed him to do the documentary, New York based filmmaker, Ben Nabors, in an emailed response to Malawi News Agency (Mana) explained that he was inspired by Kamkwamba's innovation.
"I was initially inspired by William's creation of a functioning windmill from scrap parts. He accomplished this at the age of 14, with no formal training and only a text book as a guide, and the vision, ingenuity and perseverance put forward in making that machine drew me to his story," said Nabors.
He said he met William when he was experimenting with new energy-producing machines and ideas, as well as traveling a lot and having a whole range of different experiences.
Nabors said over the time he spent with the windmill man, he became impressed by his incredible poise, personality, and commitment to his community.
"It is not easy to transition between countries and cultures, but William handles it remarkably well. He is an amazing individual, not just for his invention of a windmill, but for how he continues to pursue his personal goals of education and alternative energy sources, as well as motivate others to dream big," he said. As a subject of the documentary film, Nabors said he started and spent 5 years following and filming William in Malawi, South Africa (where he attended boarding school), and the USA as well as frequent trips to Malawi.
Other characters in the film are Tom Rielly (William's mentor, whom he met at TED in 2007), William's co-author Bryan Mealer (co-author of "The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind"), and Andrea Barthello (An American sponsor)
Also in his story, William co authored with Bryan Mealer a book titledThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
William, is currently, in the Dartmouth Engineering program, a group of students who undertake engineering projects to improve communities in need. After graduation, he plans to return to Malawi and install solar panels in some of the primary schools so students can use computers or read at night