Thursday, October 8, 2009
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind
I love that title. It makes me think of a fairy tale. The kind where humans turn into animals that belong somewhere other than here, like the sea or sky. Or the kind where a long journey has to be taken because someone is born into the wrong life. It conjures old-timey illustrations of grimacing men in top hats with long faces becoming vapour and terrorizing small villages until a child traps them inside of a butterfly net with magic words given by a self-sacrificing healer. You know... folk tales.
But instead, it's the title of a book co-authored by William Kamkwamba, a boy from an African village who, with little education, and little knowledge of English, looked at books about windmills and built one based on the diagrams -- and then made it conduct electricity. Impressed? So was Jon Stewart during the taping of The Daily Show (which I went to thanks to Martha) and boy it was a real treat. William Kamkwambe was inspiring and down-to-earth. Jon Stewart even re-shot his intro to make it shorter so that there would be more of the interview in the episode. That's when I fell in love with him, not during the beginning when he makes jokes, and talks to the audience, not even when he was visibly cracking up while watching one of his "reporters" skits on bling recession. But when he did extra work to make sure something important had more air time. Something about sitting through 40 mph wind tunnels made getting into the show more magical. Like some epic test passed, a riddle answered correctly to a troll under the bridge who grants us passage to a place we've only dreamed of.