What does the water mean to him?

The story of The Swimming Pool is written by Jekwu Anyaegbuna, and it narrates how a corrupted former minister of water resources describes his past luxury life to a fisherman in a small bar on river while he is escaping from the angry people. My question is that what does water mean to him?


I think that the water can have multiple meanings to him. As a “former Minister of Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, to him, water is money, he uses the excuses like “to construct dams, execute several irrigation projects for agriculture, and bury pipes underground for water supply to household” to gets funds from the World Bank and IMF. However, he never used it to help people, he used the fund to live a luxury life. He has an automatic swimming pool built for “top-notch hotels” in the developed countries and it “could detect when its water was dirty and change it.” It is especially rare because the poor people there cannot even find any water to drink. However, his second wife and daughter both died within the swimming pool. To him, water is not the source of money, but also the origin of sadness. It’s like trading to evil as you give out your happiness or something precious, you can get money and power. However, water is also the original reason why he chose to be a corrupt officer, because “East African rebels drowned her in a water tank she had built to help victims of drought disaster.” This is how his first wife dies before he becomes a minister. He is disappointed and thinks that the people do not deserve help, instead, he builds the new and luxury house to show off but not help them as a kind of punishment. At the end of the article, he mentioned that “I had to escape to my mother’s village, this riverine settlement ”, which means that water used to be an important element during his growth, and gives him a feeling of home.

2 thoughts on “What does the water mean to him?

  1. I agree that in the general’s mind, water is a resource to be exploited for his own personal good in order to live a luxurious life while at the same time it is the origin for his sadness. The general repeatedly mentions to Douglass how he acquires many funds that he uses for himself rather than the greater good of the people he is governing. For example he states, “…so I built one for myself, a lush farm settlement, surrounded with high walls…[O]h those walls! Those lofty walls…” Based on this language, I would not only consider the general’s use of water as a way of getting funding and as a means of acquiring money, but also as a symbol to show his selfishness. First, he refuses to help his people with their water crisis and in fact exploits them as he states, “They saw my guns, and the battalion I commanded, so the villagers knew better than to object.” We see this selfishness again when the general doesn’t allow Douglass to express any of his own statements and opinions. For example he puts words in his mouth as he states, “Douglass, you know you’re a bloody civilian, a lanky fisherman with sallow skin..” The fact that he doesn’t allow Douglass to speak and exploits the villagers emphasizes the fact that he truly doesn’t care about anyone else.

    I really liked your comment on the fact that not only does water serve as a symbolism in terms of wealth, but that the wealth generated from the water in fact turns out to be an origin for his sadness. His sadness is generated by the death of his wife and daughter in the big expensive pool that he builds for himself and can be confirmed through the setting of the short story and by who he is talking to. Often in our society when people go to bars alone to drink and babble to other men, much like the general does as he drinks pammy and ogogoro while speaking to a poor fisherman, they are sad or feel bad about themselves and something that they have done. In the end, this could be the general’s way of acknowledging his mistake of exploiting water as a resource and the villagers votes. In the end, we could understand water as a symbol for the wealth, selfishness, and further, the sadness and acknowledgement of the mistake he makes.

  2. يُفضّل القضاءُ على البراغيث التي تعيشُ على الحيوانات، خصوصاً الأغنام والقطط والكلاب، وهذه الحيوانات عادةً ما تكون حول المنزل، ممّا يجعل من السهل على البرغوث القفز منها إلى الإنسان والاختباء في ملابسه ومن ثمّ التغذّي على دمه، ولا تُحبُّ البراغيث البقاء لفترةٍ طويلة على جسم الكائن نفسه، فهي تُفضّل الانتقال والقفزَ بصُورةٍ دائمة من حيوانٍ إلى آخر، وفي حال موتِ الكائن المُعيل لها فهي تتركُه لأنّه يفقدُ قدرته على تزويدها بغذائها، تشتهر هذه الكائناتُ بقوّة أرجلها، وقُدرتها على القفز لمسافاتٍ كبيرةٍ بالنّسبة لحجمها، فيُمكن للواحدِة منها القفزَ مسافةَ ثلاثين سنتيمتراً دفعةً واحدةً.

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