Ismaila Diene and his wife bid farewell to their youngest son in a small fishing village near the Senegalese capital. The son, Doudou Diene, lost his life during recent protests that have deeply impacted the country. The grieving couple refrains from assigning blame, and like many of the 16 individuals who lost their lives in Senegal’s most severe bout of political violence in years, the circumstances surrounding 33-year-old Doudou Diene’s death remain unclear.
Ismaila, a retired teacher, received a late-night call on Friday informing him that his son was hospitalized and had been shot. Approximately six hours later, Doudou passed away. Before his demise, Doudou spoke to his parents on the phone and, as per Senegalese tradition, sought their forgiveness. Ismaila expressed his uncertainty about the circumstances surrounding his son’s shooting.
Doudou, who was married and had a 14-month-old child, also had two brothers and a sister. The fishing village of Bargny, located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Dakar, the capital, was one of the areas affected by furious protests following the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to two years in prison on charges of “corrupting” a young woman. The verdict is expected to render Sonko ineligible for the 2024 presidential elections, and he alleges that the charges were part of a conspiracy to suppress his rising political career. Bargny, with its weathered homes connected by sandy paths, paid a heavy price, with three individuals losing their lives during the protests, according to several local officials.
“He didn’t participate in the protests or engage in politics,” said Doudou’s weeping mother, Mbene Mbeye, adorned in a white headdress and flowing robes.
Both the government and the opposition attribute the deaths to each other. The opposition highlights the severe repression of the protests, while the government denounces a planned destabilization effort orchestrated by “dark forces,” foreigners, and armed individuals.
When the police inquired about Ismaila’s plans, he stated that he intends to file a complaint. “I hope that justice will prevail because certain actions cannot go unpunished,” he remarked. “Losing a child is an immense emotional shock. Regardless, justice will be served, either through human hands or in the afterlife.”
“Let justice be served. Innocent people are losing their lives. It’s not acceptable,” stated Doudou’s mother, also a retired teacher, just before departing for the mosque to attend the funeral prayer.
Hundreds of relatives and neighbors gathered at a verdant mosque where the coffin was placed. Following approximately ten minutes of tributes, the solemn procession of men made their way to the cemetery on the town’s outskirts. The women will visit the grave later.