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Visual artists in inspired art

To tell Kamkwamba’s story

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Ziwaoh (left) with veteran musician Wambali Mkandawire during an exhibition

William Kamkwamba is not new in the world of innovation to the world. Kamkwamba is a Malawian inventor and author, who gained fame in the country in 2001.

He built a wind turbine to power multiple electrical appliances in his family’s house in Wimbe, 32 km east of Kasungu District, using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard.

His story has inspired many people not only in the country but in the world such that it forced Hollywood star Chiwetel Ejiofor to produce a movie – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

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In the movie – a 13-year-old boy is thrown out of the school he loves when his family can no longer afford the fees. He sneaks into the library and learns how to build a windmill to save his village from a famine.

It is a film based on a true story and most of the reviews describes the movie as very touching and that it has beautifully depicted the life of a 13-year old Kamkwamba and it tells an astonishing story of triumph over hunger.

The film was shot in Kasungu District and was released in 2019.

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This is one of the success stories from Malawi and these are the stories that need to be documented and told for the world to know.

It is in this vein that some visual artists through Art Malawi have decided to come out to hold an exhibition titled The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind through inspired art exhibition.

The exhibition will take place on January 15, which happens to be Chilembwe Day at Chocolate Factory in Zomba.

The artists involved in the project are Charles Levison, Madalitso Ziwaoh, Samuel Ndalema and Kelvin Maxwell Ngoma, an actor who starred in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

“This is a project of honouring our own heroes and so, we have started with William Kamkwamba of Kasungu who made a wind mill to produce water for the community. So, we are appreciating his talent and we have to inspire youth through William’s achievements,” Ziwaoh said.

He said they are using art to explain the story of “our heroes, sung and unsung”.

“The stories point to innovation that starts as a habit and grows to upper heights as in story of William Kamkwamba,” Ziwaoh said.

He further said they are hoping to inspire more people through the exhibition.

“There are thousands of youth out there with innovative minds but to them it’s a hobby or just a pass time, they have no clue of the power of what they possess. So, apart from the exhibition we are looking at a workshop where youth can get an insight on how to harness their talent and bring it out to the world,” Ziwaoh said.

He said this is not just an event but rather it is a path that would bring out brains that would create and make things happen, and that in turn this would also help in solving the unemployment rate in the country.

“Youth would focus on inventing different things rather than being involved in other unnecessary things. We can only build our country and move forward when we take time out to encourage youth to be innovative,” Ziwaoh said.

He said the project was being spearheaded by Art Malawi with Moving Windmill, a Non- Governmental Organisation initiated by Kamkwamba.

“This whole concept is also looking at holding an art workshop around Wimbe Village where youth will be taught basic business concepts and art training. The youth will be trained in art painting and film acting to be facilitated by Kelvin Maxwell Ngoma,” Ziwaoh said.

He said from the workshops, students will be trained on practical job by painting the mural at the Moving Windmill Hub and documenting the event.

Ziwaoh said after the workshops, they will then move to the exhibition on January 15 2021.

“The exhibition in Zomba will run for a month and, after that, we will move to Kasungu, Lilongwe and Blantyre,” he said.

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