Guinean man cycles across six countries for scholarship at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University

A Guinean student, Mamadou Safayou Barry, undertook an extraordinary journey by cycling 4,000km across six West African countries to pursue his dream of studying at Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University. Despite facing numerous challenges, including arrests and political instability, Barry’s determination and the university’s reputation as a leading center for Sunni Islamic learning motivated him to embark on this epic trek. This inspiring story highlights the importance of education and the lengths individuals are willing to go to pursue their dreams.

Barry’s journey was not without its difficulties. As he cycled through Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, countries plagued by Islamist militants and political unrest, he faced suspicion and adversity. The lack of security in these areas made his travel arduous and dangerous, with military presence and frequent attacks on civilians becoming a common sight. Barry even experienced detainment three times, highlighting the challenges faced by individuals traveling in such volatile regions.

However, fortune smiled upon Barry when he reached Chad. An interview with a journalist and subsequent online publication of his story led to generous individuals funding a flight to Egypt for him, allowing him to bypass war-torn Sudan. On September 5th, after months of cycling and overcoming numerous obstacles, Barry arrived in Cairo.

His perseverance and determination caught the attention of Dr. Nahla Elseidy, the Dean of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University. Impressed by Barry’s story and ambition, Dr. Elseidy offered him a full scholarship to study Islamic Studies at the university. This act exemplifies Al-Azhar’s commitment to providing knowledge and opportunities to students both locally and internationally.

Barry expressed his overwhelming happiness and gratitude for being awarded the scholarship, stating that he cannot describe his joy and that he thanked God for this opportunity. The hardships he faced during his expedition are overshadowed by the triumph of being able to call himself an Al-Azhar scholar.

This remarkable tale inspires us to appreciate the value of education and the lengths individuals are willing to go to pursue their dreams. Barry’s journey serves as a reminder that determination and perseverance can overcome even the most challenging circumstances. It also highlights the importance of institutions like Al-Azhar University, which not only provides educational opportunities but also extends its reach across borders to cater to students from various countries. Ultimately, Mamadou Safayou Barry’s story is a testament to the power of education and the human spirit.