A prominent theme in Chibuike Onu’s A Government Driver on His Retirement is the destructive nature of uncontrolled joy and freedom.
Other themes in the poem include the joy of retirement, the reward for commitment to duties, the danger of drunk driving, and death.
The poem expresses each of these in varying degrees, in clear, prosaic and understandable diction. Now, let’s take a peek into the highlighted themes.
THE JOY OF RETIREMENT
It’s every civil servant dream to retire from government’s service someday with full benefits of retirement. But, not every one of them gets this privilege. Some die while in active service. Our poet persona is however lucky. He retires compulsorily after more than three decades in government’s service. This prompts him to call his friends to rejoice with him and makes him to “booze and zoom himself home”.
Read the Poem: A GOVERNMENT DRIVER ON HIS RETIREMENT
THE DESTRUCTIVE NATURE OF UNCONTROLLED JOY
The poet persona is obviously happy and joyous about his retirement from service after thirty five years in service. This explains why he organises a party to mark his retirement. However, his joy gets the better of him and he drinks to stupor, something he has been able to control for over thirty-five years in government employment. His over-joyousness lands him in his grave. Thus, in everything we do, there is need for moderation. Had the retiree been moderate while rejoicing and compliant to his erstwhile driving code, he would have enjoyed his retirement in peace. All his years he “pummeled his boozy throat” in compliance with his duty rules just went to waste.
THE REWARD FOR COMMITMENT TO DUTIES
The poem is a pointer to the fact that diligence, commitment and loyalty to one’s work can be rewarded. The government driver is rewarded for his commitment to work and those donkey years of meritorious service with a brand new car. It doesn’t get any better than this.
THE DANGER OF DRUNK DRIVING
This is another significant theme in A Government Driver on His Retirement. The poem expresses the universal driving rule that drivers should not drive when drunk. It is widely believed that driving when drunk makes the driver(s) susceptible to auto-crash as in the case of our newly retired government driver. Driving when drunk pushes him to his early grave. His drunkenness “sent him home to rest in peace”. The poem exposes us to the dangers of driving when drunk and of course, that of careless driving.
Towards the tail end of the poem, the theme of death manifests. Death is an inevitable phenomenon every human being must undergo. Every one of us will die someday. However, the poet persona hurries his death time as a result of his carelessness and unrestrained joy.
It is apparent that the poem expresses a load of messages. It begins with the celebration of freedom; transits to unrestrained joy and reward for meritorious three decade long service, and festivities. At the very first attempt to exercise his freedom (with the accompaniment of drunkenness and careless driving), the persona loses his life prematurely.