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My dad dislikes Tuwo, Miyan Kuka – Bello El-Rufai

WT: What is it like being the son of a famous parent?Bello El-Rufai: Sometimes it is so normal that I forget. Other times, it is…

WT: What is it like being the son of a famous parent?
Bello El-Rufai: Sometimes it is so normal that I forget. Other times, it is vivid. It really depends on the situation and what I’m doing. When I’m with close friends, I practically forget that I am the son of a famous person. When I’m online – on Twitter or Facebook – it is difficult to forget that my father is famous. Similarly, when I am addressing youth organizations and political groups in Kaduna, it is impossible to forget who my father is. The ability to handle the pressure is a continuous learning experience.
However, I believe what is most important is to ensure that it never gets to my head. I do that by having friends that can call me to order if the need arises, and by constantly reminding myself that my fathers’ achievements and fame aren’t mine.
WT: Has his name opened doors for you in any way?
El-Rufai: Certainly. That may be seen as controversial, but I believe it might have also closed some doors as well.   
WT: Does being an El-Rufai come with pressure?
El-Rufai: Yes, it certainly does. First, there is the expectation or hope that I am or have to be as smart as he is. Some also believe that I must be as disciplined. Additionally, a famous name means knowing where and when to do or say certain things.  In other words, there is a need to be extra-careful with your actions if people can easily identify who you are. In general, the chip on my shoulder gets bigger on a daily basis because I always feel as if a single negative act can dishonour or tarnish the good name that my father has worked very hard for.
WT: Your father has a reputation for being driven. Is this true?
El-Rufai: By his own admittance, that perception is down to his record in public service. Since 1999, he has had very difficult jobs – in BPE and the Ministry of FCT – that require an uncompromising nature and an adherence to the rule of law. At home, my father is as determined for us to be morally upright. However, he is informal and very liberal in how he interacts with us. My friends are always shocked, sometimes awed even, at our topics of discussion and his naturally amusing nature. He’s got a great sense of humour, too.
I will tell you a story one of my best friends, Adam Wali, told me. My late brother Hamza, with Abubakar and Adam, said while I was still in school, Adam was seated next to our father on a plane and they were chatting about something. Abubakar who isn’t as close to my father as Adam suddenly saw them high-five each other. After their plane landed, Abubakar couldn’t stop himself from telling Adam that he never knew my father was like that. To Abubakar and many others, it is impossible to see ‘Mr. Demolition’ in that mood. We, having known him all our lives, know that he is at his best in this mood. We also know that the witty, funny and simple El-Rufai is the most authentic one. The hard, driven person you asked about only captures his professional side. And quite frankly, our country will be a better place if most public persons have a similar attitude.  
WT: Has he ever gotten angry with you or any of your siblings, and what was the offence?
El-Rufai: Yes, of course. In my case, he has admitted on too many occasions that my mother was very concerned about me while growing up. I was a recluse with a short temper, just like my father was as a child, from what he has told me. As such, there were too many incidences where I had to be punished. But a particular incident will forever remain with me because it involved caning.
Our house in Kaduna was the only one with a basketball court at some point. Therefore, a lot of neighbours often visited to play. At the age of 9, I was a sore loser. I forcefully told everyone to leave when my team failed to win a single game. My justification was that it was my house and I had a right to ask anyone to leave. I created a scene and forced security to clear the house. The next day, my father asked me to get a cane. I had no idea it was be used on me. The lesson was to never be boastful and to be fair in my dealings with anyone, regardless of what their situation is.
WT: What are some of the fond memories you have of your dad while growing up?
El-Rufai: They are countless. But some of the ones that stand out include wrestling with him, while trying to mimic WWE’s Summer Slam. He would slam us while we climb on his back. There were also long trips to Jacaranda to have lunch and see the crocodiles. He would always play music some 80’s and 90’s music loudly. These nostalgic memories continue to shape my diverse taste of music. He would play Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’, Carly Simon’s ‘Let the river run’, Saadou Bori’s entire album and Fela Kuti’s ‘Zombie’ among others. There were also many trips to Hilltop Hotel in Jos, and the usual stop to buy roadside meat in Saminaka. He was also fund of telling us Hausa folklore, specifically the ones of Gizo da Koki. Finally, it was a family tradition to light a few candles and sit outside on the mat while he told us the stories of the 25 Prophets of Islam. It is because of this early knowledge that I can still remember all of their stories by heart.
WT: What is one fun thing you used to do with your dad that you miss?
El-Rufai: I miss all of the aforementioned things. I honestly cannot pick one. In general, it is his time that I miss. Unlike my younger siblings, I can still vividly remember a time where my father had time. Nowadays, we catch up while he is walking or when I forcefully drag him to a room for 5 to 10 minutes. Nevertheless, I still appreciate the little time he provides, as he is very busy man that spends most of his time in the car or on the plane. And, I am grateful I was in college in Boston when he was studying at Harvard, as we had all the time in the world then.
WT: What would you say is your dad’s favourite phrase?
El-Rufai: Work hard to do your best and confidently leave the rest to God.
WT: Your dad is ever-busy. How does he relax?
El-Rufai: He doesn’t relax enough. Since the APC merger, he has been juggling family and politics. He has been busy fighting for the soul of the party at the national and state levels. Fortunately, the success at both levels enabled him to travel to Dubai for a few days to get some rest. But even that trip was cut short. I know reading and exploring the Internet for new information are some of the many things he does to clear his mind. But, the much-needed vacations have to be forced on him.
WT: What are his likes and dislikes?
El-Rufai: He likes forthright, independent and hardworking people. He dislikes selfish individuals, hypocrites, flip-floppers and intelligent people who fail to be objective about critical issues.
WT: What is his favourite fashion accessory?
El-Rufai: My father is not into fashion or looks, to be frank. I have seen his fashion game step up as he has aged. But he is more into gadgets. For example, I have no doubt that he would be one of the oldest politicians to purchase the Google Glass once it becomes available here in Nigeria. In any case, he is mostly in a Kaftan nowadays, so that has to be his fashion mainstay. He is not a huge wristwatch fan either and actually wears it on his right hand. Also, his most expensive fashion accessories were given to him as gifts and he rarely wears them. And all that has been to my benefit, as I end up getting them from him. He always jokes that we are already inheriting his things even though he is still alive.
Nonetheless, some of the designers that can be seen in his closet include Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Giordano. I recently got him a pair of slippers from Laura Ahman and he liked them a lot.
WT: What is his favourite meal?
El-Rufai: It is easier to tell you what his worst meal is. My father detests Tuwo and Miyan Kuka. According to him, he had a lot of it as a child. He enjoys his salad and is seriously cutting down on red meat. At the moment, you will get a follow back from him on Twitter if you get him Hadiza Bulongu’s chicken in Kaduna.
WT: Is he a sports person?
El-Rufai: He’s not a huge sports fan, but his favourite is Table Tennis. He is passionate about the Super Eagles and is an avid Arsenal fan. He enjoys going on walks or for the occasional jog.
WT: Tell us an attribute your dad has that society isn’t aware…
El-Rufai: I think he revealed almost everything about him in his book, The Accidental Public Servant. I personally find it cool that was a millionaire in dollars by the age of 26. It also explains his respect and fondness for independent individuals.
WT: How would you describe your dad, outside being a politician and father?
El-Rufai: I’d describe him as one of my best friends and one of the most brilliant minds in the world.

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