Love That Motivates | Teen Ink

Love That Motivates

November 2, 2018
By Rohan_Iyer BRONZE, Woodinville, Washington
Rohan_Iyer BRONZE, Woodinville, Washington
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

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William Kamkwamba, the main character of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, was set apart from those around him because of one defining trait: patriotism. The novel is about how and why he builds a windmill that sends him into stardom among foreign countries, turning his life into a success story. He goes over a food crisis that turns out to become a major turning point in his life. He noticed the clear imperfections in his country during this time. William then details the process in which he created his life-changing technology after the crisis, motivated by the hope that he could change the way his country worked. William Kamkwamba's patriotism is what made him special.

William is well aware of the numerous faults of his country and is not afraid to state them. “The floods and drought the previous year had given us a food deficit far greater than people realized. In addition, the international community — namely the International Monetary Fund and World Bank — had pressured the government to pay off some of its debt by selling off a portion of our grain reserve, since holding on to it was getting expensive. But some individuals in government sold all of it instead, without keeping any for emergencies. Where it all went, no one knew,” (Kamkwamba and Mealer 87). This does not imply that he has no love for his country, however. It is quite the contrary: according to Primoratz, “Such identification is expressed in vicarious feelings: in pride of one’s country’s merits and achievements, and in shame for its lapses or crimes,” (1). From this it is evident that true patriots do not simply praise their country — rather, they identify as one with their country and strive to better it. The preceding quote from The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is from the drought when William was noticing how Malawi was unable to cope with the famine it caused.

It is vital that William understands these issues, as it is the reason why he later goes on to build a windmill. “If we can all invent something and put it to work, we can change Malawi,” (Kamkwamba and Mealer 249). William truly cares for his country and hopes to inspire his fellow Malawians to make changes to the country as well. Making an effort to help others help the community is a sign of patriotism, and is why William is so successful: He not only built a windmill in his house but built one in a school, enhancing his fame and reputation. It is this that led to Dr. Mchazime finding William: “some officials from the Malawi Teacher Training Activity were inspecting the library at Wimbe Primary when they noticed my windmill in the schoolyard,” (Kamkwamba and Mealer 250).

William’s patriotism is not easily apparent, and in fact, some readers may state that he is selfish. There is evidence supporting these statements. An example would be when he describes the benefits he would personally gain by building the windmill: “With a windmill, I could stay awake at night reading instead of going to bed at seven with the rest of Malawi,” (Kamkwamba and Mealer). However, such an assertion is false — in the long run. Although William may only think about personal benefits for the first windmill, he then took his patriotism into consideration, branching off and creating windmills in other locations - and, as stated before, this is exactly why he eventually became famous enough to have a bestselling book written about him.

From this information, it is apparent that William Kamkwamba’s patriotism made him the internationally-known man he is today. During the major drought in William’s childhood, he was exposed to the faulty framework that made up Malawi. After it ended, he took the initiative to do something about the situation; turning to science to improve his country. From his contributions arose an opportunity for him to rise to prominence. William’s passion for his country brought out his scientific genius; this proves that passion is the key to success.


Works Cited

Kamkwamba, William, and Bryan Mealer. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. William Morrow, 2010.

Primoratz, Igor. “Patriotism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 26 Apr. 2017.

The author's comments:

After reading the novel The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, I noticed how William's motivation for building the windmill wasn't well described. That led to me writing an essay on that topic.

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This article has 1 comment.

Jiku said...
on Nov. 9 2018 at 11:25 pm
Jiku, Redmond, Washington
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I love the unique insight you brought to this novel. Good Job!!