Bello El-Rufai (pictured right), son of Mallam Nasir El Rufai, took to his Facebook wall to pay tribute to his younger brother, Hamza El-Rufai (pictured left), who died in a fatal car crash on July 29th. Find his moving tribute below..
“Hamza El-Rufai was born on February 14th 1991 in Kaduna state and attended Essence International School before transferring to Sacred Heart, a Catholic Primary School in Kaduna. He took the Common Entrance Examination from Class 4 and began…his Secondary School Education in Nigerian Turkish International School. His journey to secondary school 2 years before his time was more pleasing due to the several awards he received. He is my younger brother and was one of my best friends.” Continue…
He excelled in high school, and obtained his IGCSE Certificate with distinction. Hamza He completed his IB Diploma in 2009 at the United World Collage of the Atlantic, before moving to the University of Virginia to study Chemical Engineering. Unfortunately, he had to transfer due to visa issues during his sophomore year in college. Hamza’s next and final academic destination was at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai. He had settled on studying Mechanical Engineering, after managing to transfer his credits to his new school.
He came back for the holidays after taking summer classes to compensate the delay he went through as a result of the aforementioned visa complications. In all his academic days, he was engaged in various extracurricular activities. He enjoyed football; basketball, skiing, traveling, and video games among many other hobbies. He was an avid Manchester United supporter, a staunch Chicago Bulls fan and Pittsburg Steelers fan. Hamza was a huge fan of the critically acclaimed actor James Dean and the American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
He enjoyed going on ski trips and traveling around the world, the most adventurous was a Spring Break trip to Columbia. The playful picture of him jumping over a Columbian flag was taken while he was there, Hamza enjoyed learning more about the diversity in Latin America. He had always been interested in the political ideologies of numerous revolutionary fighters, particularly, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. He got to witness the legend of Pablo Oscar, the drug lord of Medellin whom the poor protected during the height of his power. All in all, he described the trip as a life changing experience. His friend, the son of a former Vice President of Columbia, invited him.
Hamza was simple, unpretentious and too nonchalant at times in my view. He loved t-shirts, bathroom slippers, akara, and was never distracted by the finer things in life. He was extraordinarily blunt, a trait I believe he got from both of our parents. He was a loyal friend that went the extra mile for others and they reciprocated the affection in return. He enjoyed diverse genres of music, from Classical, Hip Hop, House, Rhythm & Blues and Rock. He was huge fan of Bob Marley, Bon Iver, Il Divo and the Kings of Leon. He was also addicted to Football Manager and loved FIFA. Our FIFA career mode is still in our PS4.
Hamza was open and comfortable with strangers regardless of their position or status. From the newspaper vendors by Federal Secretariat, the credit sellers by Transcorp Hilton, the street hawkers selling orbit chewing gum on Adetokumbo Ademola Crescent to the security workers in Amigo, Hamza managed to touch their lives in some way or the other. A few days ago, a security guard at Dalema Bakery in Kaduna approached my humble self, Adam and Bashir to condole us and compliment Hamza. He was patient enough to know their names and kind enough to assist them in anyway he could. And, they will never forget him for that. They regularly confused me for him when he was back in school.
I have been called the politician of our family. Having a degree in Political Science and International Relations, coupled with a Masters in Public Relations & Corporate Communications might be the reason why. But while I had to study and learn the art of politics, it came naturally to Hamza. It was this inherent character that enabled him to relate with a cross section of individuals in a more authentic manner than I ever could. The reputed intelligence of our father was also a gift he inherited, leading to the great pressure he had to endure. As children, when I came back home with a B+, it was accepted, but, when Hamza came back with an A-, he was criticized for not putting his best effort.
He had his shortcomings as a young adult, but I am yet to meet a human being that does not. I always had a problem with his somewhat carelessness and overly free spirit. I was more calculative and reclusive than he was. But I also knew he would have outgrown his spontaneity with maturity and time. Yet, despite his occasional absentmindedness, I valued Hamza’s judgment and counsel in everything I did. He was instrumental in my decision to propose to my fiancée. He was my debating and arguing partner on a number issues, ranging from politics, social life and ethical conduct. Even before his double promotion from Class 4, I knew he was more intelligent and straightforward than I was. Most of us believe he grew up too fast was very wise for his age and that made him a friend, as well as a brother to me.
As Muslims, we are cautioned to not speak ill about the dead and that prayer is better than any form of compliments. Therefore, may the gentle soul of my darling boy rest in peace along with all the other Nigerians we have lost to natural causes or the insecurity situation in Nigeria. He will be remembered for being a caring young man with a huge heart. He had friends from all over the world from different cultures and religions and interacted with them as fellow brothers and sisters before anything else. He lived a fulfilled life of smiles and laughter, and will be remembered for being there for his relatives, friends and most importantly, his parents. His affection for our mother was true love at its purest form.
To my parents, who have now lost two children in less than 3 years, I beseech you to pray and accept the will of God. I recall a kind reminder from an uncle, Jimi Lawal; on the day we lost Hamza. He mentioned that even the Prophet Muhammadu SAW (PBUH) lost 5 out of his 6 children during his lifetime. Therefore, my parents must do well to remember that as special as they are, they are not as unique as the Messenger of God. And he still had his 3 more children taken away from him.
To my siblings, I urge them to come together to sustain the dreams and memories of both Yasmin and Hamza. I also assure them of my full support and affection. For in this capricious world, it is important to consistently express your love for your relatives. One of the things that I am glad Hamza and I practiced was that we never hesitated to tell one another that we loved each other. We expressed this feeling in public and in private countlessly. To our friends that were physically here and those that could not make but had to send their wishes, I would like to thank you on behalf of my family. It is no exaggeration that we could not have endured Yasmin or Hamza’s death without your support and prayers.
To Hamza’s girlfriend, Iman Abubakar, I hope she remembers the good times she had with Hamza, and their joint sense of humor. He was fond of showing off her pictures and reminding us that he had the prettiest girlfriend within our group of friends. It is the combination of her beauty, discipline and kindness that endeared her to Hamza. She should continue to be what she is, a strong and independent minded woman. And as our father said, she will meet a better person than Hamza by the grace of God. It might seem a herculean task, but nothing is impossible with prayer and patience and life must go on. Iman, my sister, you will always be a part of our family!
To other well wishers that reached out via phone calls, message or social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, thank you and may God continue to protect your loved ones. To our not so well-wishers that bombarded our father’s social media platforms and other news outlets to air out their hatred, we thank them as well. But they must do well to remember that it is fruitless to take joy in someone’s Ioss. We will all leave this world when God wishes it. I re-call Hamza’s reaction when we witnessed something similar after Yasmin passed away. He believed it is the price we pay for the choice our father took to participate in public service and politics. But our stalkers must remember that for every one of them, there are ten others that will continue to support and believe in us. This group of people will continue to pray for Hamza’s eternal soul to rest in peace. And your obsession and hatred continues to be the fuel that drives us.
To the countless dignitaries that visited and prayed for Hamza, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to mourn with us. May God protect you and your loved ones! I would also like to thank President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for his statement condoling our family. Though politics may divide us, death should serve as unifying incident for reflection and repentance. In Suratul Imran, the Qur’an states that kullu nafsin zaikatul mau, which translates to “verily, every soul shall taste death.” On this absolute truth by Almighty God, I have accepted the loss of my Hamza, or shall I say our Hamza for he belonged to us all. And as a friend pointed, Hamza’s loss is a loss to all of us and not just his family.
A few days after he died, I noticed some posts that totally captured what Hamza embodied. The general theme was that Hamza El-Rufai belonged to everyone. “Hamza El Rufai was a true gentleman and a great loss to all who knew him.” Another stated that, “today we mourn Hamza and celebrate his life, pray for him, give charity in his name, say good things about him for he deserves it all.” Such words brought me to tears but made me realize that Hamza truly belonged to many others, and not just us. But more than others, or us, Hamza belonged to God, and to God he returned.
I will end this with two quotes that have kept me stable since his death. The first is an extract of a speech that Robert Kennedy gave at the funeral of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. It originated from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and aptly describes how valuable our Hamza was to me. “When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. And he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night. And pay no worship to the garish sun.” If there was one person that could dim or outshine the sun, it was Hamza. And finally, as Helen Adams Keller once said, “the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be with the heart.” We can no longer see or touch Hamza, but as the best, Hamza has been embedded into our hearts. May God forgive his sins and reward him for the many good things he did. For at the end of the day, his good far outweighed his negativity.