There are basically three types of people in this world. The first kind is of those who accept their fate without complaining. They feel that nothing could be done to change the way in which life treats us. They wait for some divine intervention to happen, which in turn would change the course of things and elevate them from their struggles. The second kind is of the people who crib about their lamentable life and blame all the other forces at work except themselves. They blame their past and how others were at fault, not once introspecting their own actions. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is about a boy who falls in the third category. The kind of people who don’t sit with their hands on their laps. They possess the belief that they alone change their fate. They cross every hurdle without even entertaining the thought of stopping. They clearly see what others consider an illusion and that’s why they are able to do things that no one can imagine.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the directorial debut of Chiwetel Ajiofor. The actor who was nominated for the Academy Award for best actor for his film, 12 Years A Slave, has welded the colours of Africa into an emotionally labile screenplay. The film is based on the memoir “the boy who harnessed the wind”, written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.
It all started when a 13-year-old boy named William Kamkwamba decides to find some alternative for kerosene oil, as his family is not able to afford it and he is unable to study at night. William, hailing from the rural area of Malawi, belongs to a humble household and has a knack for repairing electronic devices. His father, Trywell Kamkwamba, sends him to school as he never had the opportunity to attend one. He understands the importance of education. But soon due to unprecedented climatic changes the whole district faces a famine-like situation. There is utter chaos due to lack of planning on the part of a corrupt government. William has to leave school as his father is not able to pay the fees. He enters into a coerced arrangement with one of his teachers, to allow him to study in the library. But soon the headmaster finds out and expels him. The need to create a source of energy and harness it became even more critical. Due to unpredictable weather conditions, which was a result of our actions and the disruption we have caused in the delicate balance of nature, farming could not be done relying on the natural cycle. William had an idea to harness the wind and create a turbine to supply water. But we all know that in the history of mankind every novel idea, every invention, every change has been met by a lot of opposition.
“Ngati Mphepo Yofika Konsa” – God is as the Wind that Touches Everything
When Trywell Kamkwamba and Agnes, William’s parents, got married they decided that they wouldn’t pray for rains as their ancestors did. William inherited this pragmatism from his parents. The film caters to many subplots that add layers to the main plot. When during the Kukula season Trywell comes to know that the harvest would not be satisfactory, he asks his community chief to address the matter during the rally in which the President was supposed to come. But the government does not appreciate this kind of constructive criticism. The government only acknowledges the viewpoint of sycophants. Trywell very pertinently says
“Democracy is just like imported cassava, IT ROTS QUICKLY”
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind also puts light on the pressing issue of climate change and how it impacts our rural farmers. We cannot escape the impending calamity that we have brought on ourselves. We never really understood the implied significance of nature. We always kept our acquisitiveness above anything. It is a misapprehension on our part to think that the depredation of nature wouldn’t seep into the walls of opulence. It’s just a matter of time. A scene sends shivers down your spine and makes you retrospect the actions of one of the most ungrateful species on earth i.e mankind.
A tribal man stands and sees a tree being cut down by the tobacco industry, to create more cultivation space. This mutilation marred the value of an already insignificant piece of paper, we call money and the undying hunger for it.
Mahatma Gandhi once said,
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
The performances especially by Maxwell Simba who plays the protagonist William Kamkwamba, Chiwetel Ajiofor, who plays Trywell Kamkwamba and Aissa Maiga who plays Agnes Kamkwamba are stirring and but it invokes a keen sense of sadness but not without a flicker at the end of the tunnel. The cinematography brings out the hues of the homespun philosophy of the copious land of Africa.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind does not restrict itself to cater only to the conflicts and plots and narrative. It talks about that one believer who has the might to change the course of things. It talks about that one inconspicuous neutron that is capable of triggering nuclear fission. When William Kamkwambe stands on his own creation and looks at his beautiful village, your faith is reinstated in mankind.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is streaming on Netflix.
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