The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

Author:William Kamkwamba
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2009-02-19T22:00:00+00:00

WHILE MY FATHER HAD been traveling, trading, and boozing, his older brother John had built up a booming business. Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s when President Banda was building all the big estates near Wimbe and Kasungu, there was lots of work for the local men. Building contracts were like gold, and Uncle John happened to know some of the managers who were hiring these subcontractors. Working as a kind of headhunter, John became the middleman, finding the right skilled, trustworthy crews to do the jobs. Because his judgment was always good, the estates paid him handsomly.

After several years of working for the estates, Uncle John saved enough money to start a farm imports business, buying and selling maize seed and fertilizer to the local farmers. He even had a small storefront in the trading center. This business became successful, and after a few years, he sold it and bought fifty-nine acres of land from Chief Wimbe, which he used to grow maize and burley tobacco—a kind of mild tobacco that’s cured in the open air under handmade shelters.

Since Uncle John had money for good fertilizer, the tobacco from his farm was top quality. His fields never had any weeds and the leaves were deep green while growing, drying like the color of milk chocolate with fine traces of red. His tobacco fetched a high price each year at the Auction Holdings Limited in Lilongwe, where the farmers sold their hundred-kilogram bales on the auction floor. One good bale of tobacco would pay for seventeen more bags of fertilizer, enabling his farm to stay strong, given the good weather.

In 1989, when I was one year old, Uncle John came to Dowa for a friend’s engagement party and stopped by for a visit. That night he and my father went for a walk.

“Why don’t you come back to the village and farm with me,” John said. “Things are going well.”

“I can see,” said my father. “But farming takes too long. I’ve gotten so used to the trading. How can I start something new?”

“It takes a long time, true. But if you invest that time and just a little money, the payoff is huge. Look what I’m making from tobacco. That kind of profit is impossible with trading. How much are you clearing each month with your rice and secondhand clothing? Five percent?”

“Four percent,” my father said. “Soon I won’t even be able to feed these kids. If I eat, my business suffers.”

“Well, come back home, young brother. There’s a big place waiting for you.”

My father then told John he’d stopped drinking and turned his life to God.

“Then, think of this as a chance to start over,” he said. “Consider this a sign.”

“Okay,” my father said. “You’ve convinced me.”


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