William Kamkwamba · 270 pages
Rating: (16K votes)
“I try, and I made it!”
“I went to sleep dreaming of Malawi, and all the things made possible when your dreams are powered by your heart.”
“Thinking of them reminds me of a quote I read recently from the great Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. that says, "If you can't fly, run; if you can't run, walk; if you can't walk, crawl." We must encourage those still struggling to keep moving forward.”
“Don't insult me today just because I'm poor, you don't know what my future holds!”
“If you want to make it, all you have to do is try.”
“Few people realize this, but cutting down the trees is one of the things that keeps us Malawians poor.”
“BEFORE I DISCOVERED THE miracles of science, magic ruled the world.”
“I didn't have a drill, so I had to make my own. First I heated a long nail in the fire, then drove it through a half a maize cob, creating a handle. I placed the nail back on the coals until it became red hot, then used it to bore holes into both sets of plastic blades.”
“Mister Geoffrey, my experiment shows that the dynamo and the bulb are both working properly," I said. "So why won't the radio play?"
"I don't know," he said. "Try connecting them here."
He was pointing toward a socket on the radio labeled "AC," and when I shoved the wires inside, the radio came to life. We shouted with excitement. As I pedaled the bicycle, I could hear the great Billy Kaunda playing his happy music on Radio Two, and that made Geoffrey start to dance.
"Keep pedaling," he said. "That's it, just keep pedaling."
"Hey, I want to dance, too."
"You'll have to wait your turn."
Without realizing it, I'd just discovered the difference between alternating and direct current. Of course, I wouldn't know what this meant until much later.
After a few minutes of pedaling this upside-down bike by hand, my arm grew tired and the radio slowly died. So I began thinking, "What can do the pedaling for us so Geoffrey and I can dance?”
“Whatever you want to do, if you do it with all your heart, it will happen.”
“Dr. Mary Atwater's story was so inspiring. Growing up, Dr. Atwater had a dream to one day be a teacher. But as a black person in the American South during the 1950s, she didn't have many great educational opportunities. It didn't help that she was also a girl, and a girl who loved science, since many believed that science was a subject only for men. Well, like me, she didn't listen to what others said. And also like me, Dr. Atwater had a father, Mr. John C. Monroe, who believed in her dreams and saved money to send her and her siblings to college. She eventually got a PhD in science education with a concentration in chemistry. She was an associate director at New Mexico State University and then taught physical science and chemistry at Fayetteville State University. She later joined the University of Georgia, where she still works as a science education researcher. Along the way, she began writing science books, never knowing that, many years down the road, one of those books would end up in Wimbe, Malawi, and change my life forever.
I'd informed Dr. Atwater that the copy of Using Energy I'd borrowed so many times had been stolen (probably by another student hoping to get the same magic), so that day in Washington, she presented me with my own copy, along with the teacher's edition and a special notebook to record my experiments.
"Your story confirms my belief in human beings and their abilities to make the world a better place by using science," she told me. "I'm happy that I lived long enough to see that something I wrote could change someone's life. I'm glad I found you."
And for sure, I'm also happy to have found Dr. Atwater.”
“Cool! Where did you get such an idea?” “The library.”
“Although Geoffrey, Gilbert and I grew up in this small place in Africa, we did many of the same things children do all over the world, only with slightly different materials. And talking with friends I've met from America and Europe, I now know this is true. Children everywhere have similar ways of entertaining themselves. If you look at it this way, the world isn't so big.”
“After a few days of rain, the seedlings will push through the soil and unfold their tiny leaves. Two weeks later, if the rain is still good, we then carefully apply the first round of fertilizer, because each seedling requires love and attention like any living thing if it's going to grow up strong.”
“My grandmother Rose was a tough woman, so tough she'd built the family home with her own hands while my grandpa worked as a tailor in the market. She'd even built the furnace and molded the bricks herself, which is not an easy job, and even today, not the job of a woman.”
“If it weren’t for the great Scottish missionary David Livingstone, the Yao and Chewa might still be at odds today. Livingstone helped end slavery, opened Malawi to trade, and built good schools and missions. Young men became educated and earned money, and once these economic opportunities were available to all, our two tribes had little reason to fight. Today we consider the Yao our brothers and sisters. My”
“Sensing my delight at seeing his laptop, Tom asked me, "William, have you ever seen the Internet?"
In a quiet conference room, Tom sat me down at his computer and explained the track pad, how the motion of my fingers guided the arrow on the screen.
"This is Google," he said. "You can find answers to anything. What do you want to search for?"
In one second, he'd pulled up five million page results-pictures and models of windmills I'd never even imagined.”
“If we were going to determine what was broken in the radios, we needed a power source. With no electricity, this meant batteries. [...] we'd walk to the trading center and look for used cells that had been tossed in the waste bins. [...]
First we'd test the battery to see if any juice was left in it. We'd attach two wires to the positive and negative ends and connect them to a torch bulb. The brighter the bulb, the stronger the battery. Next we'd flatten the Shake Shake carton and roll it into a tube, then stack the batteries inside, making sure the positives and negatives faced in the same direction. Then we'd run wires from each end of the stack to the positive and negative heads inside the radio, where the batteries normally go. Together, this stack of dead batteries usually contained enough juice to power a radio.”
“With the money my mother earned from selling cakes, my father cut a deal with Mangochi and bought one pail of maize. My mother took it to the mill, saved half the flour for us, and used the rest for more cakes. We did this every day, taking enough to eat and selling the rest. It was enough to provide our one blob of nsima each night, along with some pumpkin leaves. It was practically nothing, yet knowing it would be there somehow made the hunger less painful.
"As long as we can stay in business," my father said, "we'll make it through. Our profit is that we live.”
“When you go to see the lake, you also see the hippos.”
“Twenty days,” I said, looking at my father. “I’d say you’re right.” We smiled and stroked the leaves like swaddled babes, enjoying the soft music they created together in the breeze.”
“When planning misfortune for your friends, " he said, "be careful because it will come back to haunt you. You must always wish others well.”
“Everyone has the same hunger, son. We must learn to forgive”
“No matter how foreign and lonely the world outside, the books always reminded me of home.”
“The Arabs from Zanzibar convinced them to become Muslim, then recruited them to capture our Chewa people and put us into bondage. They raided our villages, killed our men, then sent our women and children across the lake in boats. Once there, the slaves were shackled by the neck and made to march across Tanzania. This took three months. Once they reached the ocean, most of them were dead. Later on, the Yao captured and traded us to the Portuguese in exchange for guns, gold, and salt.”
“The pictures in the library book had provided the idea, hunger and darkness had given me the inspiration, and I'd set out myself on this long, amazing journey.”
“News came of Beni Beni, the madman of Wimbe, who'd always made us laugh in better times. He'd run up to merchants in the trading center with his raving eyes and snatch cakes and Fantas from their stalls. No one ever took them away because his hands were always so filthy. The mad people had always depended on others to care for them, but now there were none. Beni Beni died at the church.”
“Papa, why are you selling our goats? I like these goats."
"A week ago the price was five hundred, now it's four hundred. I'm sorry, but we can't wait for it go any lower."
Mankhalala and the others were tied by their front legs with a long rope. When my father started down the trail, they stumbled and began to cry. They knew their future. Mankhalala looked back, as if telling me to help him. Even Khamba whined and barked a few times, pleading their case. But I had to let them down. What could I do? My family had to eat.”
“Chief Wimbe also loved his cat, which was black and white but had no name. In Malawi, only dogs are given names, I don't know why.”
“My voice sounded like one of the guinea fowl that screeched in our trees as it pooped, but I never let that stop me.”
“It was the monster of all winged dinosaurs, the pteranodon.”
“coming from the far passageway that led to the smaller”
“Wendy’s house, unlike many in Cape Breton, had three floors, along with a basement and attic. Aside from Wendy’s bedroom, there was a laundry room. The dirty water in the sink would rush from the washer hose, bubbling up, threatening to overflow, but it never did. Next-door was a motel with a neon sign that read in turquoise and pink, “We have the best rates in town!”, but the ‘E’ in ‘rates’ kept flickering on and off day and night so that every few seconds it would switch to, “We have the best rats in town!”
“He commuted to his Canadian office in a Ferrari, though sometimes snowy conditions forced him to use Bentley.”
“I don't think most humans are dumb," I argue.
"So you think most humans are smart?"
"I think all humans have potential.”
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