Dead pools - evidence of a decaying culture.


Swimming pools are evidence of an advance, high functioning culture. These social structures are complex to build, and require a knowledge of chemistry to maintain in a functional, pristine and inviting condition. Equally, dead pools are visible sign of a decaying culture. An artefact of a  time when the people who lived there recognised the social value of such a facility, and had the resources to create it. Today the hole is often still there, evidence of a former half filled with black water. 

Today resources skills required to create and maintain the swimming pools have vanished in southern Africa, and the ruins of former glorious swimming pools litter the landscape. Many dead pools were state-funded - at schools, hospitals, army bases and  other government facilities.  In the new economic environment many South Africans are unable to afford  the maintenance of their beloved home swimming pools.

The politics of post-1994 South Africa have resulted in management structures being taken over by people with different allegiances to the old, and as result resources are diverted and allocated elsewhere. Many municipal pools lie derelict, while new 50m Olympic-size pools are built in formerly disadvantaged communities, where they are often under-utilised or just ignored. The significance of building swimming pools in the townships is an interesting phenomenon.

Click here or on the map below to see some of these dead pools on a map of southern Africa.

The iconic Grande Hotel in Beira, a former resort in the coastal town in Mozambique, provides a stark picture of this phenomenon.

Below are a number of school swimming pools from the former Rhodesia -  Gifford High School (Bulawayo), Guinea Fowl HighSchool (Gwelo), Milton High School (Bulawayo), Mount Pleasant High School (Harare). 

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