My back was turned to the class. I drew a chair, sat, made sure the armrest and wall would give me enough cover before I grabbed some tissue paper and switched on William Kamkwamba’s “How I harnessed the wind.” I knew from experience that the applause at the end of the talk would last long enough to allow m to dry my eyes before turning back to face the class.
This scenario has been repeated every year — sometimes two or three times — since the first time I watched William’s talk many years ago. This talk represents my hope for Africa: one where Africans draw from within to generate necessary transformations, where community remains strong, and where collective progress remains the underlying motivation for all. I hold out these strong hopes, and I teach that, in Africa, leadership, research and development efforts should not be motivated by the availability of funds but by a conviction that where there is a will, there surely will be a non-dependent and dignified way.
When, in August 2017, I finally met William Kamkwamba during TEDGlobal 2017, I surprised myself: there were no tears. Just words of gratitude from my thankful heart — a heart filled with hope and a knowing that since there has existed one William Kamkwamba from among Africans, there will be many more arising out of Africa in the coming years.