Understanding Naira Marley using the keys of Andrew Fletcher

The Naira Marley wave is upon us. Many have been swept. Many are being swept. And many are wondering what sort of wave it is. Followers of Nigeria’s music history cannot tell us if fans of Fela proudly called themselves by a name, derived from his name. They cannot tell us if fans of King Sunny Ade, Commander Ebenezer Obey, Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Kollington Ayinla, Sir Shina Peters, KWAM, Tubaba, proudly called themselves by a name derived from their names. Many will argue that the ‘kokolets’ wave of Dbanj, in his hey days, was nothing compared with the current ‘Marlian wave.’ None of the other big name entertainers including Star Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Olamide, Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, Teni, etc have anything close to the wave unleashed by Naira Marley.

Some people do not know if what they feel is hysteria, panic or outright fear. Some feel like they have resigned themselves to the next wave, something to displace the current move. Wishing that what is coming after this be less fierce and less overreaching. They wish they know how to ride the wave.

As I tried to process the whispers and digest come of the interpretations given to the wave, I could not help but reach out to yesterday to find some important keys. I found what I consider the most fitting key as I browsed some of the treasures stored in yesterday. The keys were resting in the hands of Andrew Fletcher. He was a Scottish philosopher. This is what he said, “Let me write the songs of a nation; I don’t care who writes its laws.”

How does Fletcher’s keys help us understand the Naira Marley wave?

  • For some inexplicable reason, Naira Marley chanced upon the idea that a generation has emerged in Nigeria that prefers songs to laws. And he decided to satisfy that longing
  • Ambivalence about law making and enforcement by those whose duties it was to uphold the sacred function, instituted a general disinterest in that generation, which compelled a search for alternatives
  • Boredom, which followed the ineffectual attention given to law making and enforcement, created just the right conditions for Marlianism to fester and flourish
  • The dominance of personalities with conflicted personalities, who dominated the public space, saying one thing and doing the opposite, created a condition for the emergence of a generation that refused to wear that garb. They do not want to say they are good and practice the bad; they don’t want to do in secret and condemn openly what others do in secret and condemn openly. So they smoke publicly, like they do privately, for example
  • Refusal of many in power to recognize the power of songs, the power of music, and creatively, purposefully deploy it as a tool to effectively cultivate this generation, created the conditions, which Naira Marley is now exploiting.

By the way, why are songs stronger than laws? It is easier and faster for songs to become laws (like we have all witnessed with the Marlian wave) than for laws to become songs. Laws are often boring while songs are not. Laws, though vital, are easy to forget, songs are not. Laws are often written in black and white. On paper. While songs are often written in hearts and emotions. Laws are usually stationary and more boundary specific while songs are more mobile and usually blur boundaries.

How many now want to ride Marlian wave?

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