Chameleone: How I suffered in Nairobi
Ugandan musician Joseph Mayanja popularly known by the stage name Chameleone has recounted his past struggles in Nairobi.
The singer once relocated to Nairobi because there were no studios in Kampala at the time. He released several songs in Nairobi at the start of his career including Mama Mia and Dorotia, before he became one of the most popular musicians in East Africa at the time.
However, he says, that things were far from rosy at the start of his career.
“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.
Chameleone following suit in the early 2000s,
Chameleone said by the time he first arrived in Nairobi in the early 2000s, Bebe Cool, who at the time had been in Nairobi since 1997, was already getting full-page coverage in the Kenyan newspapers. Having met way back in 1995, the two Ugandans forged a very strong bond in Nairobi.
Famed radio presenter Maina Kageni has one time explained how a struggling Chameleone once gave him a CD containing his songs to play 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.
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.