In 21st-century Africa, poverty, natural disasters, and political corruption threaten a young family’s survival, but a young man’s ingenuity may rescue more than his immediate family.
In the Netflix film based on William Kamkwamba’s memoir, Maxwell Simba plays the young man who would rise above the socio-economic struggle in Malawi, Africa, to save his father’s farm—and provide electricity and water to their community. Thanks to Chiwetel Ejiofor’s breakthrough direction, as well as his portrayal of William’s father, Trywell, the story compels the audience to root for the underdog.
While political and social ramifications of 9/11 swirl in and around Africa, the Kamkwamba’s farm suffers as does the larger community, thanks to a back-and-forth flip-flopping of drought and flooding. While the Kamkwamba family tries to make education a priority, the struggles of the economy negatively impact William’s schooling. Still, his passion for engineering drives him to first repair village radios, and later, bring water.
Told through a mix of English and the local dialect Chichewa (with English subtitles), the film shows how William must stand up against tradition and a lack of understanding, often embodied in his father. Thanks to William’s ingenuity and perseverance, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind shows that there’s much to be learned from each other, regardless of our preconceived expectations. His courage in focusing on what he knows to be both true and good ultimately saves hundreds of people, reminding the audience that sometimes the hard stand is the right one.
The Dove Take
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind dynamically shows the real-life story of this tenacious child and inventor, William Kamkwamba, in a way that will inspire young people, and encourage families to listen to different viewpoints.