The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind


William Kamkwamba

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind makes teaching easy.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Prologue Summary & Analysis

William Kamkwamba describes climbing the tower of a machine that he has just built, as people from his village gather to watch. He notices imperfections in the machine’s crude frame, remembering the journey he took to find each piece and give it new life. He brings wires up to the top of the tower and knots the final dangling wires together.
Kamkwamba does not specify exactly what the machine is as this point, though it is easy to guess from the book’s title that it is a windmill. It is also clear that this machine has been a labor of love for William that took great effort and uses recycled parts, starting the theme of recycling and reinvention in the book.
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
William removes the bent wire that keeps the machine’s blades from spinning. He holds his breath, as the villagers down below wait to see if his crazy schemes have paid off. Everyone erupts into cheers when the wind-driven movement of the machine’s blades is able to produce enough electricity to illuminate a lightbulb.
As this book is a non-fiction memoir, the suspense of whether William will be successful or not is already answered for any one who knows William’s story. The focus of the book is thus on the journey William took to build the machine. Everything that William sacrificed and learned along the way is more important than the final outcome.
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon