As a southern African country Malawi’s neighbours South Africa and Zimbabwe usually get all the coverage when it comes to global popular culture: both for good and bad. It’s probably why Malawians have been hotly anticipating the new Netflix feature film on a true Malawi story.
It stars, and is directed by, British-Nigerian Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and is adapted from a book by a Malawian author and innovator William Kamkwamba.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is set in 2001 Malawi with the Kamkwamba family struggling to make ends meet but parents Trywell (Ejiofor) and Agnes (Aissa Maiga) remained focused on their children’s education, despite the financial cost. Their 13-year-old son William (Maxwell Simba) is forced to leave school due to money problems, but he is determined to help not only his family but a village facing famine. To this end he builds a wind turbine which helps farmers to irrigate their land.
The film, which was shot in Malawi, is released globally on Netflix on March 1, 2019. It’ll be a chance for Malawi to shake loose the most recent global pop culture reference of Madonna’s controversy in the adoption of David Banda back in 2006. In fact, the only time Malawi gets international coverage in popular culture is when the pop singer visits Malawi.
But even with the excitement, not everyone in Malawi is pleased after seeing the trailer. There have been familiar gripes about inauthenticity with a British-Nigerian actor playing a lead role and the accents and languages being not as on point as they could have been. Read more