Midway into the fourth season of Big Brother Naija, it became clear that Tacha's fanbase had a ruthless loyalty to the Rivers-born contestant. Tacha was the season's 'Dragon Lady,' her personality so unhinged and unapologetically bold in the house that her fans as well mirror these traits, passed onto them like some kind of osmosis. But the real nature of her fanbase took shape when she was disqualified, so close to making the show's top five finalists.
Aside the plethora of fan pages on social media dedicated to make Tacha even more popular, it was the way Tacha's fans made constant, relentless online buzz about everything she does.
When celebrity presenter Do2un tweeted that he'd be the first in the whole country to interview Tacha, priding himself in it, her fans swarmed towards him with attacks. According to them, he didn't support Tacha while she was toiling in the house and now he wants to take the glory of being the first to have a media interview with her.
It was a case of Do2un wanting to reap where he didn't sow. And he got death threats, so much so that he apologised online and called off the interview. Tacha would later grant him the interview nonetheless, but the sheer power that her fans wielded was remarkable.
Tacha was one of the first ex-housemate to be verified on Twitter, just shortly after founder of the micro-blogging platform Jack Dorsey was in Nigeria, and Titans heavily pushed for Tacha to have the verification badge on her account.
Amassing brand endorsements, and feverishly reaching the upper echelons of celebrity has defined Tacha's post-Big Brother Naija footprint, all thanks to her restless, hive-minded colony of fans. Most importantly, Titans, as they are called, are pushing the envelope of what fandom can be, especially in the internet age.
In the same vein Naira Marley's fans, known as Marlians, are the newly minted fandom dominating the internet. Marley's entanglement with anti-graft agency EFCC over suspected fraud didn't stop him from releasing singles, and with each song came the continuous shaping of the personality of his fans - brash and loud, their riotous social media presence ever so visible.
They have ''Marlians'' attached to their social media accounts, amplifying Marley's music which was felt when he released his post-prison single Soapy, an ode to masturbation.
Marlians aren't just the street type. Recently, a new set of ''educated/posh'' Marlians have made their identity known, and with the announcement of Marley's debut EP LOL and concert this December, it will be a perfect opportunity for both factions of his fanbase to unite.
The difference between the fanbases of Tacha and Marley is that Titans are always trending something about Tacha online, and every day. There's always a hashtag with her name-#BankableTacha, PowerfulTacha, TachaTheUltimate - and her online activity, even if it's just her posting a picture on Instagram, is made to appear more dramatic and important. It is that quality that other fanbases lack - that Tacha can sneeze and her fans will report it with mass excitement.
There's no other term to call them than 'Superfans.' Fanbases have always been an integral part of pop culture. What are your pop stars and celebrities without them? But something has changed with how we see fans with the separate cases of Titan and Marlians.
This year has shown the immense power that these superfans can generate and wield. For Marley, his raunchy tweets are also oscillated towards the intellectual stuff but his fans are solely responsible for how these tweets are magnified and propagated. It's also interesting how the rise of his fanbase is proportional to his rise in the music industry. Will Marlians be this vibrant in 2020? We would have to see.
For Tacha, there's a feeling that her fanbase is one we'll never see again for a while, so dedicated in their energy and loyalty. It's also scary to think how these celebrities can influence their fanbases to effect changes. A snap of the finger, and these fans are ready to move mountains. They are superfans, after all.
- Bernard Dayo (Guardian NG)