Last May, Mamadou Safayou Barry captured the headlines over his epic 4,000km (2,500 mile) mission to cycle from Guinea to Egypt for a place at Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar University. As a result of his inspiring adventure, he received an unexpected call from Will Smith who expressed deep admiration for Barry’s efforts.
In the surprise video call to Cairo, where Barry is studying, Smith told him he was "deeply moved" by his efforts and gifted him a new bike and a laptop.
The married father of one could not afford the cost of a flight, so instead got on his bike and took four months to pedal through Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger and Chad, facing unjust arrests and detentions in Burkina Faso and Togo along the way.
Smith’s publicity team reached out to the BBC in September after the story of Barry’s odyssey was published, indicating that it had deeply moved the actor.
Barry’s fortunes changed upon reaching Chad, where a journalist interviewed him and shared his story online. This prompted some good Samaritans to fund a flight to Egypt for him. Upon arriving in Cairo, he received a university placement initially for Islamic studies, later transitioning to engineering, along with a full scholarship. Smith also contributed vouchers to assist Barry in purchasing flights either back to Guinea to visit his family or for his family to visit him.”
The celebrity and philanthropist shared with his 9.75 million subscribers the video conference call in a 7:36-minute edited video on his YouTube channel.
“When I first heard Mamadou’s story, I couldn’t believe it. Trekking across seven countries on a bike? I appreciate Mamadou taking the time to sit with me and talk about his inspiring journey,” Smith wrote in the caption. Smith gifted Barry a new bike and a laptop, stating, ‘I want the world to hear your story.’ Overwhelmed with gratitude, he later exclaimed, “I don’t know how to thank you!”
This is such an absolute pleasure for me to talk to you and to share your story,” Smith said before recounting how Barry left his wife and young daughter in his homeland to pursue his dreams.
Barry said he is studying electrical power generation and later hopes to become a teacher.
Despite Barry's initial hesitance to discuss his own experiences, he eventually agreed, realizing that sharing his story might encourage others to pursue their dreams. One individual moved by his narrative went as far as purchasing a ticket for him from their country to Egypt, completing his remarkable trek.