Azeez Adeshina Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley has not only influenced the Nigerian music industry with his Afro beat/Afro-Pop genre, he has also influenced a new generation of youths who have called themselves Marlians.

The support he garnered from millions of Nigeria youths during his incarceration by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is undeniably massive, as hash tags #FreeNairaMarley and other heart-rending solidarity write-ups littered the cyber space. His irate followers got their hands on the gadgets minutes after minutes to cast aspersions on his critics.

His incessant reckless tweets and public display of marijuana (weed) on his Instagram page also came under the scrutiny of moralists demanding decorum in the way he puts out his thoughts on national and personal issues. Recently he opined in one of his tweets about the higher marketability of ladies’ butts over Masters degree claiming that a lady having a big ‘backside’ is more attractive and more likely to be prosperous than a masters degree holder.

The Naira Marley fever is one that has swept across the entertainment scene like a flood, giving rise to a new generation of people called ‘Marlians’. Now the term ‘Marlians’ is used by people who are fans and followers of Naira Marley, with obvious characteristics. Shockingly, many have confessed to becoming or associating with deviants, rebellion, among other vices in order to be tagged as true ‘Marlians’.

After his breakthrough in 2019, his massive fan base was code named ‘Marlians’ with the motto ‘No Mannaz’ as one of the most used words. Marlians are alleged to be mainly fraudsters, yahoo boys, drug addicts and others who have negative behaviors and means of getting rich. A post online explains the rules for becoming a ‘Marlian’ (most of which were derived from his songs and online interactions and behaviors).

Naira Marley posted on Twitter saying, “Admit it, life would be boring without me. Having a big booty is better than having a Master’s degree.” However, the post didn’t go down well with many especially ladies who claimed to have big butts.

Following the reaction, having been tagged a bad influence to society on several levels, Marley came out to advise his fans on the use of drug and drug abuse.

Taking to his Twitter, the singer sent a note of advice to warn his fans not to do drugs, except if it was prescribed. “Marlians don’t do drugs unless it is prescribed”, he wrote.

Becoming a ‘Marlian’ sadly, has become a trending issue that is currently causing concerns for parents and the society at large. While Naira Marley may be oblivious to how ‘infectious’ his behavior, and songs have become in the society today, many are concerned that if not nipped in the bud, a generation of societal deviants may have been born unknowingly.

Parents and social critics have voiced concerns over the increasing lack of morality, and disregard for elders or authority among youths.

Love Clement, a banker, in a chat with The Vortex expressed worry over the mannerlessness exhibited by young people adding that, parents must pay critical attention to their children and what they are exposed to.

She said, “My heart bleeds every time I shop at the mall and see young boys and girls dressing roughly, smoking in car parks and even romancing themselves in dark open spaces. I understand that they want to identify with their entertainment idols but what we are having today is worrisome. Growing up I listened to music from Bobby Brown, Boyz 2 Men and some Nigerian artistes and they sang about love and all but we were sensible enough to know what we wanted for ourselves. Today, especially with the #Marlian trend, which I believe is more of a cult, youths are losing their self esteem to alcohol, drugs, sex, and get rich quick attitudes. I can only advise parents to monitor their wards more.”

Another parent on Facebook wrote about her helplessness and shock learning about the Marlian fever. She got to hear from her daughter’s school principal, that her ‘Born-Again’ daughter belonged to a female secret cult in the school.

A psychologist, Grace Jumbo, explained that peer pressure plays a big role in today’s society, especially with the influence of social media.

She said, “Youths are predisposed to all manner of information at their finger tips as granted by the internet and are easily influenced today than ever before. When they see what their peers and idols are ‘achieving’ online, they tend to desire same. Now, who these friends and idols are remain the most important question. Sadly, today, many artistes do not see themselves as role models and the regulatory bodies are also grossly failing in their duties. There is no structure or regulation within the entertainment industry in Nigeria so the society is free to gobble up whatever is fed to them, especially online. Even if Naira Marley’s songs are banned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), how about the satellite TVs, YouTube and other stream sites. I guess this is where the monitoring of social media comes in but its intentions are also debatable”.

Mrs. Mercy Nwokocha, a socialite believes the media is largely at fault for whatever problems the society faces.

“I blame the media. They always hold all these people in high esteem. He who pays the piper dictates the tune. If the media platforms refuse to play or air certain songs and videos, entertainers will be forced to have sense. I switch on my TV and seen near naked women in various videos. Over time, if these are exposed to young children, they will be brain-washed to think it is the normal way of life. And so today, our youths are endangered species. Look around you and see how our young adults are misbehaving. Everything that we thought was bad, growing up, today, is normal; smoking in public, glorifying obscenity, sex, alcohol, name it. I am disappointed”, she said.

The Vortex engaged a self professed 21-year-old ‘Marlian’ on Whatsapp and the conversation was fascinating. According to him (names withheld) he became a ‘Marlian’ because of the ‘values’ that his rap idol stands for.

“Naira doesn’t fake it. He is so real. He does what he likes and speaks his mind. I also love his dance steps. I became his follower and fan because his songs speak freedom”, he said.

When asked on the type of freedom he speaks of, he said, “Freedom from societal values and expectations. I can dress the way I want, do whatever pleases me because I am responsible for myself. The EFCC tried to oppress him but till date, he has been triumphing. Naira Marley is a prophet”.

While it is evident that more Nigerian youths are becoming more independent and vocal against societal norms and values (Not limited to Naira Marley’s input), it is expected that individuals in positions of influence, particularly entertainers, should be ready to assist in shaping public perceptions with their craft and not encourage actions capable of instigating social deviants and immorality.

With the “Marlian” fever spreading like wild fire, the job is for parents to monitor their wards as best as they can, and for the artiste concerned to have more sense of responsibility while the media should stop glorifying mediocrity even as the regulatory bodies tighten their control.

Spreading like a virus, all hands must be on deck to correct the anomalies associated with the Marlian fever.

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