On March 23, 2020, Nigerian rapper, Naira Marley jumped on Twitter to make a simple request of his followers, 'Retweet if u don’t believe in CoronaVirus.'
Just after the tweet, Naira Marley jumped on Twitter and went live. He says, "If I don't believe in what you believe in, I don't believe in it... F***! I said retweet if you don't believe in coronavirus and you want to kill me. Are you stupid or you're stupid or you're dumb? What does that mean?"
As at the time Naira Marley sent out the tweet, the world has seen over 200,000 cases of coronavirus. In Italy alone, 800 deaths were witnessed in one day of the disease. In Nigeria, we currently have 35 cases, but two have been discharged. While the disease is not fatal, its spread must be curtailed at all costs.
Over the past few days, Nigerians have used social media to criticize the government for its laxity in shutting down borders and airports. Most of the early coronavirus cases in Nigerian brought it from other countries. It was a wild time on Twitter NG yesterday as Nigerians decried the religious gatherings that could spread the virus further.
One of the greatest battles Nigeria faces as it combats coronavirus is the lack of belief amongst Nigerians who still don't believe in its existence or take it for granted. Such cockiness and ignorance could help the disease spread in a country with a grounded healthcare system. We cannot afford carelessness amongst Nigerians during these times.
For that reason, Nigerians were incensed by Naira Marley's foolish and insensitive tweet at this time. Here are some of the reactions from his moment of foolishness;
Naira the dumb-o
Feminist finds a way to pin it on men
What could have inspired Naira Marley to do this?
A day ago, Naira Marley's regular collaborator and 'brother,' Zlatan engaged the same act of compound foolishness. He aimed to start a 'Don't Stay At Home' challenge as he posted a video of himself playing football in what seems his living room.
The only explanation from these acts of wanton irresponsibility from two of Nigeria's biggest artists over the past two years is that they need cheap publicity and that will make them petty attention-seekers. Since the turn of the year, neither act has been able to maintain the level of notoriety they had during the the past 18 months.
Both their bodies of work failed to make any impression and their singles since December 2019 have been meh. In fact, Zlatan tried to jump on an Obesere wave and ended up making more noise than any impression. For his own, Naira Marley's latest single, 'Aye' has about 1.2k views on YouTube in three days.
Instead of focusing on how to make better music that will appeal to people, they have resorted to nonsensical actions of a supposed iconoclast. Their acts aren't just foolish, they are insensitive young men in a Nigeria that needs heroes. They are a dastardly representation of what humanity should be and they should be ashamed.
What celebrities should be doing at this time is educate people on why they need to stay at home. They cannot claim to be deaf to what the world is going through. If they really cared about their fans, they would want to keep their fans safe. Instead, they are using the ignorance of a people as an avenue for cheap publicity.
These are celebrities with power that people listen to. Their primary listening demography are likely the Nigerians who don't believe coronavirus is real. Their primary fan base is the Nigerian mainstream that does not want to accept the severity of coronavirus. Instead of helping a country, the foolish young men are looking for self-promotion.
This is what happens when you have lost a sense of control. While their actions in 2019 landed them in absolute stardom, this recalcitrance will do nothing for them in 2020. The only thing that can help them is genuinely resonant music. In 2019, they started an argument about internet fraud, racism and other borderline issues.
They succeeded in dividing opinion and found a way to leverage with good music. At that time, they were coming off strong starts to 2019. But this time, they are now stars - the rules are different. Their strategies of cheap publicity won't work. Moreover, these strategies are acts of selfishness.
It's fine to be selfish, but not about a global pandemic. No amount of argument they offer will wipe the slate off. Those statements should never have been made. This is what happens when you have people like you as advisors. Even if they were both joking, Naira Marley and Zlatan should have known better.
The country needs them to educate people. Naira Marley criticized the government in 2019 and blamed them for the high rate of internet fraud. While his opinion was divisive in 2019, this one is sine qua non foolish and nonsensical. Moreover, instead of helping his people get the better of a government he criticized in 2019, he has now become everything that government is infamous for.
This should never have happened. Celebrities should learn responsibility. If Zlatan and Naira Marley end up having another stellar 2020, it won't be due to their acts of foolishness during these trying times.
Naira Marley and Zlatan need to grow up.