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Chameleone: I was in Nairobi without anything to eat



Joseph Mayanja, a musician from Uganda better known by his stage name Chameleone, has discussed his difficulties when he lived in Nairobi.

Due of the lack of studios in Kampala at the time, the singer once moved to Nairobi. Before he rose to prominence as one of the most well-known musicians in East Africa at the time, he published a number of songs in Nairobi at the beginning of his career, including Mama Mia and Dorotia.

But he claims that early in his career, circumstances were anything but ideal.

“I was in Nairobi without anything to eat. But Rastaman (Bebe Cool) always looked for me to buy me food… I will never forget. There is a day he found me and told me, ‘you look like you haven’t eaten’, and he used about Sh62 to buy me chicken and soda… and he told me ‘if I give you cash you will use it to buy cigarettes’. Bebe Cool and I have always been like that,” he narrated.

Bebe Cool, who had been living in Nairobi since 1997, was reportedly receiving full-page newspaper publicity by the time Chameleone initially came in Nairobi in the early 2000s. The two Ugandans, who first met in Nairobi in 1995, quickly developed a close connection.

A struggling Chameleone once sent famed radio host Maina Kageni a CD with his songs on it so he could play them on Nation FM.

“He came to the Nation studios and pleaded with me to play his songs. He was skinny and broke but full of hope and confidence. I saw real talent and someone who wanted to succeed,” Kageni recalled.

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The rest, as the say, is history. Fame and fortune would eventually follow Chameleone. Some of his most popular hits include Badilisha, Kipepeo and Valu Valu.

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