HomeCelebsWill Smith surprises man who biked across Africa - BBC News

Will Smith surprises man who biked across Africa – BBC News

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Image caption,

Will Smith wants more people to hear about Mamadou Safayou Barry’s story

Hollywood megastar Will Smith has made a surprise call to a Guinean man who cycled across Africa to get to university.

Last year, Mamadou Safayou Barry captured the headlines over his epic 4,000km (2,500 mile) trek.

In a video call to Cairo, where Mr Barry is studying, Smith told him he was “deeply moved” by his efforts and gifted him a new bike and a laptop.

“I want the world to hear your story,” the lead in numerous blockbusters said.

On a short film uploaded to Smith’s YouTube channel, the student appeared shocked to be talking to the Men in Black star. “This is Will Smith!” a smiling Mr Barry said. “A lot of your films I love.”

“I don’t know how to thank you Wallahi [I swear]! I don’t know how to thank you,” he said later when he heard about the gifts.

Image source, Mamadou Safayou Barry

Image caption,

Mamadou Safayou Barry pictured last year with the bike that transported him across six countries

Last May, the 25-year-old set off from the West African country of Guinea for Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, hoping he would be accepted.

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.

He travelled through regions where jihadist fighters often stage attacks, and which have seen several military coups.

He was arrested and detained three times for no good reason – twice in Burkina Faso and once in Togo.

However, Mr Barry’s luck turned when he reached Chad. A journalist interviewed Mr Barry and posted his story online, prompting some good Samaritans to fund a flight to Egypt for him.

Once he got to Cairo he was offered a university place, initially for Islamic studies and then onto engineering, and a full scholarship.

“When you commit to a journey, the universe conspires to help you,” Smith told a beaming Mr Barry, citing author Paulo Coelho.

On the video, someone can be seen wheeling in a bicycle to give to the student, as well has handing him the laptop.

Smith has also donated vouchers so that he can buy flights either back to Guinea to visit his family, or so they can visit him.



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