Who is the real narrator?
“He’d finished his engineering degree just when the State was recruiting one final group of fifteen hundred graduates with bachelor’s degrees. It was his one and only chance to become a civil servant, to have his own place in the system. But here’s the thing: he was an engineer and the State wanted students in the liberal arts” (48).
Dog Days seems to be narrated by a dog named Mboudjak. However, because of the continual differing narratives Nganang employs to tell the story of Cameroon during their economic collapse, I believe Mboudjak is used as a messenger, who–because of his ability to observe the village—relays the stories of the individuals in his community to create a collective narrative. Thus, the downfall of Cameroon is narrarated by the entire town, not just a dog with a great sense of humor.
Above we see the experiences of Docta, the woman-crazy academic who was never able to start his degree. Paired with this testimony is that of Massa Yo, who lost his job as a civil servant as well. To show how life goes on in the midst of crisis, the humorous story of Mini Minor and the head of police. Or to see how communities break apart in paranoia, the arrests of the cigarette vendor and the Crow.
This idea is further emphasized with the concern the reader has for Dog Days’ characters. While we quickly learn to love Mboudjak with his quick wit and honest attitude, we are more interested in the wellbeing of the community than that of Mboudjak himself. This demonstrates how Mboudjak is just a vessel to communicate the story of a community, rather than the primary narrator himself.
This collective storytelling adds the human element back into the phrase “economic crisis.” This phrase is empirical to many, but its human impact is often forgotten. As we continue to study violence in its many forms, economic inopportunity is just as important to talk about, especially on a human level. Mboudjak emphasizes this through his sometimes crude, but accurate descriptions of his home, through the medium of collective storytelling.