Student cycles  4 000km to varsity Mamadou Safayou Barry with the Dean of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif.

Niamey. –  A student has cycled 4 000km across West Africa, enduring arrests and blazing heat, for a spot at his dream university.

Mamadou Safayou Barry set off from Guinea for Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar in May, hoping he would be accepted.

The 25-year-old cycled for four months through countries wrecked by Islamist militants and coups.

He told the BBC he was “very, very” happy to have been given a scholarship when he finally reached Cairo.

The married father of one said although he could not afford the Islamic Studies course at Al-Azhar, or flights to Egypt, the university’s reputation spurred him to take his chances on the epic trek through Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger and Chad.

Al-Azhar is one of the most influential centres for Sunni Islamic learning in the world. It’s also one of the oldest, having been founded in the year AD670.

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

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