Hollywood superstar Will Smith has orchestrated a delightful surprise for Mamadou Safayou Barry, a Guinean man who garnered headlines last year for his remarkable 4,000km (2,500-mile) bicycle journey across Africa to reach university. In a video call to Cairo, where Barry is pursuing his studies, Smith expressed being “deeply moved” by the student’s extraordinary efforts and bestowed upon him a new bike and a laptop.
Smith first learned about Barry’s incredible trek through a BBC Instagram post in September. In a video uploaded to Smith’s YouTube channel, the Men in Black star engaged in a conversation with Barry, who appeared genuinely shocked and elated to be speaking to the Hollywood icon. “This is Will Smith! A lot of your films I love,” exclaimed Barry during the call.
Expressing his gratitude, Barry said, “I don’t know how to thank you Wallahi [I swear]! I don’t know how to thank you,” upon learning about the unexpected gifts. Smith’s team reached out to the BBC after the initial story of Barry’s journey, expressing the actor’s desire to connect with him.
Last May, the 25-year-old embarked on a challenging journey from Guinea to Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, covering multiple countries on his bicycle. Facing financial constraints, Barry could not afford a flight, prompting his ambitious and inspirational bike ride through Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger, and Chad—regions with security challenges.
Despite facing arrests and detentions during his journey, Barry’s luck turned when his story gained attention online, leading to the funding of a flight to Egypt. In Cairo, he secured a university place and a full scholarship for Islamic studies and later engineering.
During the video call, Smith shared words of wisdom with Barry, saying, “When you commit to a journey, the universe conspires to help you,” referencing an insightful quote by author Paulo Coelho. The heartwarming surprise also included Smith’s donation of vouchers for flights, allowing Barry to either visit his family in Guinea or bring them to Cairo.
The unexpected gifts and the connection with Will Smith have added an extraordinary chapter to Mamadou Safayou Barry’s already inspiring journey, marking a beautiful intersection of celebrity and human resilience.