We are all familiar with the term discipleship, which was shown in the case of Jesus Christ and his disciples. His disciples followed him through harsh conditions and were loyal to him. Recently the internet has been going crazy following the incident between Naira Marley and Apostle Chris Omashola of the Zionwealth of Life Assembly. The pastor said that God revealed to him at the dawn of 2020 that Naira Marley is a “demon, he is satanic and should repent before it is too late. He went further to say that “his songs are demonically inspired to destroy the destiny of the youths of this generation, Nigerian youths should desist from calling themselves Marlians”. The musician in response to this shared a screenshot of the pastor’s leaked sex video with a member of his church few years ago on his twitter page on the 7th of January 2020 saying “To all Naira Marley fans aka Marlians,please what is your final judgement on this #NairaMarley and Apostle Chris Omashola case?”The singer’s fans who call themselves Marlians attacked the pastor and sent messages threatening to kill him on all social media platforms he belongs to. The Apostle however told the fans that they should stop trying to intimidate him and that he is not scared and he would continue speaking against Naira Marley.The pastor sent some screenshots of the messages he received since sharing his prophecy. One read “If we don’t kill you this weekend wetin we gain, you’ll see this Sunday…you must die for daring Naira Marley and Marlians. You don’t mess with us, we’re the deadliest. Your death is sure this Sunday, you don’t know what’s coming for you…your death is here”. Another read “This man, prepare to enter mortuary because we are coming for your head for sure…You can’t mess with the Marlian Gang…Consider yourself a dead man...this is not a mere threat, it’s a death sentence you must die. Nonsense Pastor, Naira Marley will lead to your early grave this week…just wait for us, we’re coming to end that useless life of yours…Oloriburuku Ashewo Pastor…Goat. Na Marlians be your problem abi, prepare to die because we must kill you certainly”.
The gravity of the messages sent to Apostle Chris Omashola show the extent of the loyalty of Naira Marley’s fans since the singer got out of prison and released Opotoyi(Marlians) and cemented his place in the music industry with the hit song Soapy. He has since gone on to release Puta, Mafo (featuring Young John), Bad Influence, Like Chief Keef, Isheyen, Tesumole and the Lord of Lamba(LOL) EP which houses formerly released singles like Mafo and new singles like Isheyen and Tesumole. He also appeared on several projects last year which include Davido’s Sweet in the middle,off his album A Good Time,alongside partner in crime Zlatan and Wurld,Lil Kesh’s O por, Reminisce’s Instagram alongside Olamide and Sarz, Q2’s Come Online alongside Zlatan. Disciples of Naira Marley who refer to themselves as Marlians have developed a strong love for the artist because of his easy-going lyrics which the youths relate with. Embedded in his lyricism is a sense of freedom and recalcitrance which draws the audience of the youths, he also has catchy dance steps such as the tesumole dance and the soapy dance. Popular controversial OAP, Daddy Freeze took shots at fans of Naira Marley (Marlians) recently when he said that Naira Marley is “simply serving a wicked and adulterous generation what they are craving for. This is formed on the crucible of demand and supply; if there is no demand there won’t be any supply”. Naira Marley through his music has been able to bring together a large fan base that is loyal to him. He is able to achieve this through the way his brand is packaged, a skill not known to many artists. He is seen by the older generation as a bad influence on the youths because some of his songs contain lyrics that seem to encourage social vices and antisocial behavior such as internet fraud and cultism. This made him, to cry out in one of his songs called Bad Influence, “They say that am a menace, they say that am a menace to the society. They say am bad influence; they say am bad influence to the youths”. He was able to solidify his fan base through statements like “Marlian come forward, the rest fuck off”, “no manners”. His songs take the mind of people from the events happening in the Country and their problems, as they dance zanku and move their bodies. Listening to Naira Marley’s music removes all sense of responsibility from the average Nigerian youth in a world where there is a lot of responsibility and weight on their shoulders. There is no surprise why he has a lot of fans and there is a lot of rave about the Marlian gang. A large percentage of youths in Nigeria are fans of Naira Marley (Marlians) whether they admit it or not.
A lot of memes have surfaced on the internet about the Marlian clan. The funniest of them all is the recent one which was talking about Marlians being conscripted into the Army in the case of a third world war. Many people want to identify as Marlians these days because in as much as the media is trying to rubbish it, it is also giving it publicity, that makes people ask questions like “What is in Naira Marley’s music”? They listen to his music and they find relief in a sense of freedom, and often, lawlessness. I was at a kiosk the other day and the boy selling in the shop was reciting the lyrics of Naira Marley’s Puta and I was in awe looking at the young Bini trader recite this strong Yoruba words of which he doesn’t know the meaning of. During my days at the University of Benin some boys used to hold parties where they would smoke weed, take bottles of alcoholic drinks, and play Naira Marley’s songs all night long, from Issa Goal to Japa, to Mafo. They would sing at the top of their croaky voices “Eko dun mawole toba ti lowo lapo Asabi to’n sha dollar Omo padI mi to’n sheywire”. They called theseparties Marlians fests. Today a lot of parties in town use the word Marlians to give their parties hype. In the University of Benin and in Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, pictures surfaced where Naira Marley fans aka Marlians wore prison uniforms reminiscent of the Soapy video where Marley was dancing with his friends in prison uniforms talking about his days in the cell, which gave birth to the slang zero belts, a thousand trousersused in his song Puta. Recently, a video surfaced online where Chris Brown was dancing to Soapy. Popular disk jockey and artist Cuppy once shared a tweet saying “we need a national Marlians day”, Naira Marley abruptly answered her “30th of May #MarliansDay”. After shutting down the 02 Arena, London with Wizkid, his fans set him congratulatory messages. Naira Marley basking in the euphoria of this tweeted saying “my legwork is bigger than the headies”,on the same night of the headies. Wizkid tweeted affirming the statement. A lot of reactions surrounded that statement; people felt it is because the headies did not give him a nod in a year that he was so productive. It is very right to say that Naira Marley was highly accepted in Nigeria. However, we can only hope that he builds on his consistency and not fall like some of his predecessors that sang the same watery songs that were street bangers.