A scholar has cycled 4,000km (2,500 miles) throughout West Africa, enduring arrests and blazing warmth, for a spot at his dream college.
Mamadou Safayou Barry set off from Guinea for Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar in Could, hoping he could be accepted.
The 25-year-old cycled for 4 months by means of international locations wracked by Islamist militants and coups.
He advised the BBC he was “very, very” comfortable to have been given a scholarship when he lastly reached Cairo.
The married father of 1 stated though he couldn’t afford the Islamic Research course at Al-Azhar, or flights to Egypt, the college’s status spurred him to take his probabilities on the epic trek by means of Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger and Chad.
Al-Azhar is among the most influential centres for Sunni Islamic studying on the planet. It is also one of many oldest, having been based within the yr AD670.
Mr Barry set off from his residence “searching for Islamic information” however skilled suspicion and adversity in a few of the international locations he biked by means of.
In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, assaults by Islamist militants on civilians are frequent and up to date coups have led to political instability.
“To journey by means of these international locations could be very laborious as a result of they do not have safety presently,” he stated.
“They’ve so many issues and other people there are very scared – in Mali and Burkina Faso individuals have been taking a look at me like I’m a nasty man. Throughout I used to be seeing the army with their huge weapons and vehicles,” Mr Barry stated.
He stated that he was arrested and detained thrice for no good purpose – twice in Burkina Faso and as soon as in Togo.
Nonetheless, Mr Barry’s luck took a flip when he reached Chad. A journalist interviewed Mr Barry and posted his story on-line, prompting some good Samaritans to fund a flight to Egypt for him.
This meant he prevented biking by means of Sudan, components of that are at present war-zones.
On 5 September, he lastly arrived in Cairo. His dedication earned him a gathering with the Dean of Islamic research, Dr Nahla Elseidy. After chatting with Mr Barry, Dr Elseidy supplied him a spot on Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research course, with a full scholarship.
The dean stated on her social media channels that the college was eager to supply its information to college students worldwide and that this philosophy “not solely covers worldwide college students in Egypt but additionally extends overseas. Al-Azhar receives college students from all international locations, takes care of them, and provides them grants”.
Mr Barry stated he was “very, very comfortable” to have acquired the scholarship.
“I can’t let you know how comfortable I used to be. I thanked God,” he stated.
Mr Barry added that the trials of his expedition are lengthy forgotten – erased by the enjoyment of having the ability to name himself an al-Azhar scholar.