Part 2 in the series Inspirational People

WilliamKamkwambaI have been pondering over the past few years about why it is common that the stories of the great people stem from their worst circumstances such as loss or poverty?  Is this the price to pay for greatness?

Annie Q. Syed introduced me to a quote by Viktor Frankl, “What is to give light must endure burning”.   This quote has brought about a lot of peace and harmony in my thoughts, and I have come to another realisation that the same pain can be interpreted differently.
What triggers the change in perception?  With regards to, “the greatest people coming from worst circumstances”, I am leaning towards assuming that THEY HAD NO OTHER OPTION but to make the best of their situation.  From the dire situation, one who had the mind power to do something about it brought about a sense of inspiration and determination from within.Everybody has his or her own perception of things, but what I find very fascinating is that the same physical sensation can be interpreted and experienced in a polar opposite way.  The physical activities that occur during “tears of joy” are the same as “tears of sorrow”, but it is amazing how they have a different effect on ones mental state afterwards.

William Kwamkwamba at age 14, not only taught us that solutions stem from problems, but he also confirmed that one who has sufficient insight to see a problem,   also has the capacity to provide a solution.

“William Kamkwamba was born August 5, 1987, in Malawi.  Like most people in his village, his family of nine subsisted on the meager crops they could grow.  They lived without the luxuries considered necessities by many of us, such as electricity or running water.

Their situation became dire when, in 2002, Malawi experienced the worst famine in 50 years. Struggling to survive, 14-year-old William was forced to drop out of school because his family could not afford the $80-a-year tuition.” Source

With the extra time at his disposal, William built his first windmill, taking inspiration and concepts from pictorial instructions in a book from a local library, since he could not read fluently.  The Windmill was able to give power to 4 light bulbs and a radio for his family, and has since been modified and improved.

2007, During a Ted conference at age 19, William Kwamkwamba said, “After I dropped out of school, I went to a library and got a book titled ‘Using Energy’ and I got information about windmills, and I tried and I did it!”

Kamkwamba was profiled in the Wall Street Journal for his invention. And the book titled “The Boy who harnessed the wind” was said to be part of the top 10 selling books on in 2009.  An organisation called Moving Windmills now exists, and its motto is, “African Solutions for African Problems,”  which is led by William and many others.

But does it have to be a painful road that precedes all this?  Isn’t there another way?

Vusi Sindane