Hopewell Chin’ono Biography: Early Life and Education | Career |Achievements | Activism | Arrests
Hopewell Chin’ono is a Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker who has won numerous awards for his work. He is known for exposing corruption and human rights violations, as well as producing documentaries on various social issues.
Early Life and Education
Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono was born in Zimbabwe and trained as a journalist at the Zimbabwean Institute of Mass Communications. He then won a British Government Chevening scholarship to study international journalism at City University’s Journalism School in London, England. He graduated with a Master of Arts degree in 2002 and worked as a freelance radio producer for the BBC World Service.
In 2006, he won another Chevening scholarship to study documentary film at Brunel University, where he obtained another Master of Arts degree in 2007. He also attended the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School in 2008, where he was awarded The Tutu Fellowship in African Leadership. In 2009, he became a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, the third Zimbabwean journalist to have won the most prestigious fellowship in journalism.
Hopewell Chin’ono Career and Achievements
Hopewell Chin’ono returned to Zimbabwe in 2007 and made his first documentary film called Pain in My Heart, which explored the impact of HIV/AIDS on rural communities. The film won the 2008 CNN African Journalist of the Year award, the 2008 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Award and the Kaiser Family Foundation Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS Reporting in Africa.
He then set up Television International in Zimbabwe, a production house that produced news for ITN and South Africa’s e.tv. He also worked with CNN International, Sky News, BBC Newsnight and Ireland’s RTE as a field producer and correspondent. He made several documentaries on topics such as political violence, mental health, poverty and democracy.
Some of his notable films include:
- A Violent Response (2009), which documented the brutal crackdown on opposition supporters after the disputed 2008 elections. The film was nominated for a Rory Peck television award and a BANFF World Television Award.
- State of Mind (2019), which examined Zimbabwe’s mental illness epidemic and the challenges faced by patients and health workers. The film won the Best Documentary Award at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival and the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Kenya International Film Festival.
- The New Normal (2021), which exposed how Covid-19 exposed corruption and mismanagement within the health ministry, leading to the arrest and sacking of Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.
Hopewell Chin’ono has also worked as a foreign correspondent and producer for various international media outlets, such as UK’s ITV News, The New York Times, South Africa’s eNCA and Al Jazeera English. He has reported on major events and issues affecting Zimbabwe and Africa, such as elections, human rights, corruption, economic crisis, migration and climate change.
Hopewell Chin’ono Arrests and Activism
Hopewell Chin’ono has faced harassment, intimidation and arrest for his investigative journalism and activism. He has been arrested several times on charges such as inciting public violence, communicating falsehoods, obstructing justice and contempt of court. He has spent more than 100 days in prison since July 2020.
He has also been vocal about calling for reforms and accountability in Zimbabwe’s governance and justice system. He has supported anti-corruption protests and campaigns, such as #ZimbabweanLivesMatter and #31JulyMovement. He has also advocated for press freedom, human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe and Africa.
He has received support and solidarity from local and international organisations, such as Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, Committee to Protect Journalists, Media Institute of Southern Africa and PEN America. He has also been recognised for his courage and impact by various awards and honours, such as:
- The International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2020.
- The African Journalist of the Year Award from the African Media Initiative in 2020.
- The Top 100 Most Influential Africans Award from the New African Magazine in 2021.