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ABOUT ONU CHIBUIKE THE AUTHOR OF “A GOVERNMENT DRIVER ON HIS RETIREMENT”
Onu Chibuike Egwuatu Kingsley was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Rosh Nduanusi Onu. Hailing from Umuomi-Uzoagba (now Ezenomi) in Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State, he is a proud Nigerian. His educational journey led him to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Education with a focus on English.
Currently, Onu Chibuike is making waves as both a burgeoning Nigerian writer and a dedicated teacher. He imparts knowledge in English Language and Literature at a secondary school in Anambra State, Nigeria. Among his notable achievements is his first acclaimed anthology titled “Goodnight Africa.”
BACKGROUND OF THE POEM
According to history, there was a shift in the source of livelihood of Many Africans during the colonial era, many Africans shifts from farming and other agricultural activities to paid employment. many were employed as drivers, clerks, gardeners, clerks, etc.
However, many who were excited to get on these jobs were oblivious of the servitude that comes with these jobs. Their lives were restrained and this makes many of them look forward to their retirement with excitement.
Onu Kingsley’s “A Government Driver on His Retirement” is a commentary on the drudgery of the everyday life of the average Nigerian civil servant.
In the poem, we see the poet personae receives his retirement from the civil service as a mark of freedom and choose to celebrate his meritorious services to his fatherland.
The poem also addressed the drink and drive attitude of many road users as it brilliantly infused the celebration and the disastrous end of the poet personal through road accidents this formed the most important background of the poem.
SUMMARY OF “A GOVERNMENT DRIVER ON HIS RETIREMENT”
Onu’s “A Government Driver on His Retirement” narrates how the poet persona has rendered meritorious services to his fatherland land as a driver. It was his last day on thejob before he retires. He decides to commemorate his freedom with friends which is a common practice among many civil service employees. On their last day, friends, colleagues, and family members come around to celebrate with them.
The poet’s uses of dictions in stanza two reveal the poet persona’s frustration on the job. The inability to cater to all his needs. Lines 15 &16 depict this; ‘l’ll booze to sleep away my suffering/ Today, I’ve long waited for…‘
These lines also revealed how the poet persona does not like the job, but he has to put with it, adhering to those rules and regulations for thirty-five years because he has no option to opt-out.
We experience a change in the mood of the poet’s persona in stanza four. The persona’s joy multiples as he receives a brand-new car for his meritorious service. We realize that even with the dissatisfaction with his job, he is a faithful and trustworthy servant judging by the gift given to him. Line 20 “For undented thirty-five years of service to the fatherland”
Finally, we experience the irony of life in the last stanza, the poet person in his overexcited mood drives home while drunk in his brand-new car that he lost control of his vision and then the wheel. He dies in an auto crash. It is often said that excess of everything is hazardous.
Hence, rules and regulations are enacted to checkmates our excesses. The personal takes his celebration to the extreme.
A brand-new car that will have been his source of happiness becomes his doom. He lost control, his senses, his vision, and finally his life. For thirty-five years he has been driving others safely observing road safety measures but just a few hours out of the job; few hours of his” freedom”, to
drive himself home, and complete his celebration, he renegades on the principles that have guided him for thirty-five years, he misuses his freedom and meets his doom. Thus, Edom is good, but unpiloted freedom is disastrous.
This is a figure of speech in which a part is used to represent a whole. This is deployed in lines 1, 5, and 29 where steering “wheels” are used to represent vehicles the driver had driven, and “boozy throat” used to represent the government driver and the implied suppression of his love for alcohol or his fight to maintain focus while drunk on duty.
This is the repetition of consonants at the beginning of two or more words in a line of poetry. This occurred severally in Chibuike Onu’s “A Government Driver on His Retirement”. It, is used in lines 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 15, 17, 18, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32: “faithful fatherland”; “he home”; “he holds”; “has he his”; “rules and regulations”; “he’ll go home”; “to duty tomorrow”; “sleep sufferings”; “him home”; “new name”; “Joy till no more joy to joy”; “make me”; “boozed boozed”;
“celebrating celebration”; “faithful fatherland”; “he battled with his bottle booze”; “on his way home wheels”; “booze boozed”; “he boomed his brand new car”; and “sent him home”.
This is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase used at the end of an expression is repeated near the beginning of the next expression. Anadiplosis occurs in between lines 32 to 33: “And it sent him home/Home to rest in peace.”
This is the juxtaposition of two or more identical or equivalent syntactic constructions, especially the same sentiment slight modifications, introduced for rhetorical effect.
There is parallelism in lines 2 and 6 of the poem: “In faithful service to his fatherland/ In obedience to duty rules and regulations.” These two lines are prepositional phrases both introduced by “in” while noun phrases “faithful service to his fatherland” and “obedience to duty rules and regulation are the objects of each preposition.
This is the property of a word sounding like what it represents. “Zoom” and “boom” used severally in the poem fall within this category; the former suggesting the humming noise of a car moving very fast and the latter suggesting the sound of an explosion.
This simply means the bestowal of human attribute or action to an animal or inanimate thing not capable of possessing or doing it. It is deployed in lines 23 and 32: “Today frees and makes me a king”; and “And it (car) sent him home”.
This is a type of wordplay in which similar senses or sounds of two words or phrases, or different senses of the same word, are deliberately confused. The poet deliberately played on the meanings of the word, “home”. Up till line 29, “home” retains the meaning of the driver’s dwelling place. However, in the last two lines of the poem, there is a shift in meaning as “home” becomes the grave; a place of eternal rest.
This is the repetition of similar or identical vowel sounds. There is an instance of assonance in line 10: “booze and zoom”.
a. The Danger of Drink-and Drive Culture.
Apart from the theme of reward for meritorious service in the poem, the theme of the danger of drink and drive habit is very important. Through the poetic reflection I the end of the government driver as a result of his unrestrained excitement, the poet corrects the lunatic behavior in the society especially in a society that believes that alcoholic drinks are best to celebrate a period of achievement, festivals, corporations, etc. The didactic nature of this poem tends to correct the consumption of alcohol which could lead people to their early graves, especially when driving.
b. The Reward for Meritorious Service
This, we see developed in the poem, despite the poet persona’s grudges about strict rules and regulations had to abide by for Thirty-five years of services, he remains discipline till the day of his retirement. After Thirty-five years of services discharging his duties with outstanding performance and loyalty to his employer, he was rewarded a brand-new car which later became his doom.
“A Government Driver on His, Retirement” is a poem of thirty-three lines divided into six stanzas. Stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 5 have four lines each while Stanzas 3 and 5 have eight and nine lines respectively.
In Stanza 1 (Lines 1-4), a government driver celebrates home” after years of “faithful service to his fatherland.” He celebrates his retirement from service.
In Stanza 2 (Lines 5-8), we experienced how he recalls the sacrifices he made while in service; “many years” “he pummeled his boozy throat in obedience to duty rules and regulations.” He avoided wetting his throat with alcohol while on duty so he could keep up with the ethics of hisjob. He announces his imminent emergence from government service “a freeman”, “eligible for his country services” – perhaps politics or a privalte business. By inference, he believes the restrictions bestowed on him a servile position.
In Stanza 3 (Lines 9-16), he calls on his friends to rejoice with him. He boasts he would drink and drive himself home, in defiance of the driving rule that is in traverse with drinking while driving or driving while drunk He feels he is a master of himself now. He would no longer rush to work to resume duty, the habitual thing he had done for “thirty-five years of faithful service.” He would booze to sleep all his sufferings. He also admits he had always longed for has gifted of retirement to exercise all his liberties.
in”In Stanza 4 (Lines 17—20), he has gifted “a brand-new car” in appreciation of his long years of meritorious service to his fatherland. and In Stanza 5 (Lines 21-24), he rejoices with his friends even more. He acknowledges his retirement as his liberation (from servitude) and the gift as the reward for his patience.
In the final stanza, (Lines 25-33), “he boozed and boozed”, rejoicing his newly found freedom. His drunken state affects “his vision and clearjudgment” on his way home in his brand-new car. He has an auto-crash which “sent him home . . . to rest in peace.