Jonathan Lukangi

Celebrity Life Not All Glitz and Glamour – Daniella Atim

If we are to believe what tabloids and lifestyle magazines write, celebrities live a life full of glitz and glamour. But the reality is very often very different.

Daniella's letter to her son Abba
Daniella's letter to her son Abba

If we are to believe what tabloids and lifestyle magazines write, celebrities live a life full of glitz and glamour. But the reality is very often very different. Behind the dazzling red carpets, star-studded appearances and celebrations lies a reality full of challenges and struggles. Especially if you are in the diaspora.

Jose Chameleon (real name Joseph Mayanja) is as big a celebrity as they come in Uganda, and for 3 decades has been celebrated and serenaded by tens of thousands of his followers worldwide. His marriage in 2008 to Daniella Atim was dubbed as the wedding of the century, and featured in all newspapers and magazines in Uganda.

But Daniella has since moved to the United States with all their 5 children, and rumors have been making the rounds that all was not well. First, she filed for divorce from Chameleon in 2018; and although she later withdrew the application and the two were said to have reconciled, the rumors persisted.

Then last Friday Daniella wrote on her Facebook page congratulating her son Marcus Abba on graduating from Spring Lake Park High School, Minnesota; but she also detailed the tough life they have gone through while living in the USA.

“Dear son, one day you and I will sit under a bonfire and talk about it all,” she wrote. “We shall talk about your cold dingy basement room that flooded every spring; we shall talk about how I went to 'kyeyo' for several days without return and left you in charge of your siblings plus an infant. We shall talk about how I so badly wanted you and your siblings to be able to drink milk every day; we shall talk about how I took up 2 full time jobs because I wanted you all to go to good schools, we shall talk about that twin bunk bed that all 6 of us had to fit in.”

The post was in stark contrast to what the Mayanja family has been portraying as the privileged life that Daniella and the children were leading in the US. About four years ago, while appearing at the Bethel Miracle Centre in Kampala, Chameleon revealed that he had bought Daniella a house in the USA. But this has never been independently confirmed, and neither has Daniella mentioned it in her social media posts.

People leave their countries of origin and live the diaspora for different reasons. Some leave for political reasons, some economical, and yet others for personal reasons. Daniella reportedly left because life with Jose Chameleon's family was becoming increasingly untenable.

In several social media posts, she related how as soon they got married, Chameleon's family pressured her into giving birth to a son. And how she prayed and fasted for weeks and months on end to fulfil their demands.

“I fasted for a son, I offered tithe for a son and I even went as far as making a pact with God,” she wrote on Instagram. “I told him, God if you give me a son for my first child, I will ensure that he serves you.” Of course I had a son. God gave me the son I wanted and we gave him just the perfect name Abba.”

But the family was not satisfied, and after she gave birth to two more sons, they demanded that she gets a girl. But she rebelled, and stopped her children from visiting their grandparents without her.

“I was done walking on egg shells and I wanted the courageous girl Fr John raised to come out of her shell,” she wrote. “So I immediately stopped my kids from visiting their paternal grandparents if I was not in their company. I became the villain who was the topic of discussion in family WhatsApp groups, but secretly I was thumping my chest in victory. I had won this battle.”

Daniella with her 5 children
Daniella with her 5 children

Ironically, Daniella gave birth to a girl, Alba, after that. In total the couple have five children: Abba Marcus Mayanja, Alba Shyne Mayanja, Amma Christian Mayanja, Alfa Joseph Mayanja, and Xara Amani Mayanja.

And then there was the violence. When filing for divorce, Daniella accused Chameleon of being a cruel man who physically assaulted her and her children. She also accused Chameleon's mother of being the reason her children are violent towards women. This was after it was reported that Chameleone’s younger brother Weasel (Douglas Mayanja) had assaulted his partner, Sandra Teta.

Daniella again took to social media and asked Chameleone’s mother to stop blaming women who are assaulted by her sons.

“Dear mother-in-law… you see when we love your boys, we become your children too and we yearn that you protect us equally as you protect your boys, we hope that you can have honest conversations with your boys,” she wrote. “You exonerate your children from any wrongdoing and instead accuse their wives of not understanding how to handle them… this doesn’t bring any practical solutions, it only empowers them to keep up what they do because in your eyes it is always a woman’s fault.”

Meanwhile, Daniella revealed that she is much happier living in the USA than she is in Uganda.

"People always tell me I look happier in the US. Now let me tell you what it is. I have also come alive again, reborn and feeling brand new," she said.

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