By Tolbert Joseph Sibuta
The life and career of José chameleon
Jose Chameleon, real name Joseph Mayanja, is a Ugandan afro beat and reggae artist. Fluent in English, Luganda, Kiswahili, he started his music career way back with the Ogopa Deejays in Kenya from where he planted his ”seed of fame”.
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Jose chameleon was born on 30th April 1979 to Mr. Gerald Mayanja and Mrs. Proscovia Musoke Mayanja in Kampala district. The family is comprised of eight Children, Douglas Mayanja known as Weasel who is a performer of Good life crew and solo artist, Pius Mayanja known as Pallaso who is also a music artist other siblings include Emmanuel Mayanja known as AK47 (RIP) who was also a performing artist, Henry Kasozi the CEO of Fring Fire clothing line among others.
His education journey started in early 1980s where he went to Nakasero primary school (UPE), Mengo Senior secondary school (UCE), Kawempe Muslim senior secondary school, Katikamu SDA senior secondary School and Progressive senior secondary school (UACE).
After divorcing with his first wife Dorotia with whom they had one daughter Ayla Mayanja, on the 7th of June 2008, chameleon got married to Atim Daniella Mayanja in a holy marriage at Lubaga cathedral. The couple is comprised of five children Abba Marcus Mayanja, Alfa Joseph Mayanja, Alba Shyne Mayanja, Amma Christian Mayanja and Amani Mayanja.
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His music career started at a tender age in 1996 as a Disco joker (DJ) at the Missouri night club in Kampala. Given the fact that he was hardworking and had a sound character, he was signed to the Kenyan record label Ogopa DJs where he released his first single “Bageya” that featured Kenyan artist Redsan in 2000. After the break through, with his song (Bageya), he released more than twelve (12) albums. They include, Mama Mia in 2001, Njo Karibu in 2002, Golden Voice in 2003, Mambo Bado in 2004, Kipepeo in 2005, Shida Za Dunia in 2006, Sivyo Ndivyo and Katupakase in 2007, Bayuda in 2009, Vumilia in 2010, Valu valu in 2012, Badilisha in 2013, Tubonge in 2014, Wale wale in 2015, Silimujjawo in 2016, Sweet Banana in 2017, Champion in 2018 among other vibrant songs.
Given the success achieved from his albums he became a regional and continental darling that Honourable Rebecca Kadaga, the currently the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda designated him to be the Ambassador of the Busoga tourism initiative. He later managed to become the CEO and the owner of a Music label called Leone Island that has signed many artists from Uganda and the entire East Africa at large. The artists that were signed by Jose Chameleon include, the late Moses Radio, King Saha, Papa Cidy, Big eye, Melody, Young Mulo, Deejay Pius, Pallaso and many more.
In March 2014, Chameleon broke the record of the largest Audience of the East African performer at the Lugogo cricket oval stadium in Kampala, with an estimated number of over 40,000 fans to his “Tubonge” live concert. He later made another outstanding mark on his annual do LGEND/Hit after Hit Concert in 2017 that was a success. He has performed a big number of concerts overseas say in the United States, Belgium, United Kingdom, Sweden, and many more. He is volunteering with the United States peace mission with return and rehabilitation of former lord’s resistance army rebels as he inspires them to start afresh and shape peaceful coalitions and main stream lives.
Jose Chameleon is one of the richest and most popular artists in Uganda who has won a several number of awards which include;
2005 Pearl of Africa music awards (PAM Awards), Beat Afro beat artist, Kipepeo
2004 Tanzania music awards, Beat East African Album, Jamila
2014 Hipipo music awards, song of the year, Badilisha
2013 African Entertainment Awards, International best male artist.
2014 Hipipo Music Awards, best male zouk song, Badilisha.
2015 All Afirca Music awards (Afrima), song writer of the year, and many more awards.
The music legend continued to grow his talent and expand his music career with a brand new hit, ”Baliwa’ literally meaning, where were they. He released it in January 2020. The song has managed to hit over 19181 views and 1.8k likes on You Tube, upon its upload on Saturday 29th February 2020.
Taking a stand on politics.
”I joined politics because Museveni’s regime has betrayed us”, said Chameleon.
In 2020, Joseph Mayanja aka Jose Chameleon joined the Democratic Party and was given a key role as national mobliser for the party. Recently, Jose Chameleon declared his interest in the run for Kampala capital city Mayorable seat under the Democratic Party ticket. He is contesting against the current lord mayor Elias Lukwago who has been in office for over nine years.
Murder of Robert Karamagi
On the 8th day of June 2013, Seguku town, where Jose Chameleon resides woke up to disturbing news of a young man who had allegedly set himself ablaze. Robert Karamagi aged 27 had acquired a death ticket. The whispers were too loud to be heard. Conspiracy theories about his death evolved. Uganda police force swung in action and opened a general inquiry file to investigate the death of this young man who met his death at singer Jose chameleon’s home. Hardly had investigations kicked off than the singer reported a criminal trespass case with Uganda police.
Possession of land cruiser v8 over unpaid Taxes
In July early 2020, Joseph Mayanja acquired a state of the art land cruiser v8 model GRJ from a friend. The vehicle in question is estimated at 137million Ugandan currency. It as well had South Sudan registration plates SSD499B. Uganda Revenue Officials on 29th April impounded the car in question. At that time, the singer turned politician was at Bulange Mengo, a Kampala suburb. The officers requested Joseph Mayanja to provide the car documents but he failed claiming he would provide them later after performing for his Highness the Kabaka of Buganda Kingdom. Unfortunately, even after performing for the ling of Buganda, the Musician failed to provide the car documents which prompted Uganda Revenue officials to impound the vehicle.
What exactly had gone wrong?
After a comprehensive research, it was later discovered that the singer had not paid import duty tax for his land cruiser. This literally means the vehicle had been illegally imported and not declared to customs agents for requisite taxation.
Jose chameleon was summoned to the Anti Corruption Court about the above matter. The musician was is to appear to court on July 30th over possession of uncustomed goods.
Fist fight or Kung Fu? Recently, singer Jose chameleon stormed into Diggy Baur’s studio. Chameleon was in company of his young brother Pius Mayanja aka Weasel. Also in the studio was Ugandan veteran musician Halima Namakula who had come to record a song as well. In search for popularity, chameleon ordered for his song to be played first, before any other songs could be played. The styled producer declined to Chameleons request as he believes in the principle of first come, first serve. This angered Jose Chameleon who beat up the producer and some of his workmates. It’s alleged that Chameleon went on and cut Producer Baurs finger. Producer Baur has worked on a number of projects with numerous artists in Kampala such as Eddy Kenzo, Pallaso, Sheebah, David Lutaalo, among others. For now, let’s wait for justice to take its course.
The author is a Law student at Makerere University
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