At first, Marie Therese Ndeye Sonko refused to believe her son was dead. In the dizzying aftermath of the student protests in April 2000, where police fired live rounds into the crowds, Ms. Ndeye couldn’t bring herself to go to the morgue where she was told Emil lay.
Instead, she walked from hospital to hospital, police station to police station, tallying up untold miles as she trekked across Gambia’s seaside capital and the surrounding towns hoping for different news. But she couldn’t change the truth. Eventually, Ms. Ndeye mustered the strength to drag herself to the morgue to identify the body. In the 21 years since, she’s gone without knowing the identity of her son’s killer, and also without so much as a word, an acknowledgment, an apology – anything, she says – from Yahya Jammeh, the Gambian dictator in power at the time.