Hopewell Chin’ono biography and political arrests


Hopewell Chin’ono, born on 26 March 1971, is a 51-year-old Zimbabwean journalist and filmmaker. He is best known for the 2007 multi award winning documentary film, Pain in My Heart.

Biography Profile

Hopewell Chin'ono biography
Chin’Ono during imprisonment

Full name: Hopewell Rugoho Chin’ono
Gender: Male
Date of birth: 26 March 1971
Age: 51 years old
Place of birth: Harare, Zimbabwe
Nationality: Zimbabwean
Occupation: Journalist, Filmmaker
Known for: Pain in My Heart, Exposing Corruption

Early life of Hopewell Chin’ono

Hopewell Rugoho Chin’ono was born on 26 March 1971 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Growing up Chin’ono was a responsible student who always wanted accountability from his fellow students and college lecturers. His college friend, Njabulo Ncube, recalled Chin’ono reporting his college lecture to the principal for missing classes. Chin’ono would say,  ‘We came here to learn and lecturers missing classes cannot be tolerated’.

At the age of 18, he was commissioned by Prize Beat Magazine to profile Jamaican reggae star Dennis Brown, who in 1989 toured Zimbabwe. Clad in a school uniform, he showed up for an interview with Brown at his Holiday Inn suite in the capital, Harare. He spend hours with Dennis and his wife talking about reggae, smoking and drinking. ¹

Education of Hopewell Chin’ono

Chin’ono enrolled at the Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communication, where he excelled. After graduating in 1993, he left Zimbabwe to advance his studies in the United Kingdom. He graduated with a Master of Arts degree in International Journalist from City University’s Journalism school in London, England. In 2006 while working as BBC freelancer correspondent, he won British Government Chevening scholarship to read film at Brunel University, where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in Documentary Practice in 2007.

Journalism career of Hopewell Chin’ono

After graduations, he worked for broadcasters such as BBC and ITV as a freelancer radio producer. In 2003 he returned to his home to work as a BBC freelance correspondent. After that he relocated to Europe. Upon graduating with Master of Arts Degree in Documentary Practice from Brunel University in 2007, Chin’ono returned to his homeland in Zimbabwe and made a documentary film called Pain in My Heart. The documentary won multiple awards in 2008 such as 2008 CNN African Journalist of the year award, 2008 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Award and the Kaiser Family Foundation Award for Excellence in HIV/AIDS Reporting in Africa.

Again in 2008, he was awarded the Tutu Fellowship in African Leadership award at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. In 2009 he was the winner of the US Aid Communication award in Zimbabwe for his HIV and Aids Reporting. Chin’ono filmed another documentary film looking at Zimbabwe’s post election violence of 2008 called Violent Response in 2009. The following year, 2010, the film was nominated for Rory Peck television award and for a 2010 BANFF World Television Award in Canada. Hopewell is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, the third Zimbabwean journalist of only three to have won the most prestigious Fellowship in journalism.

Other journalistic related work

Aside from freelancing and documentaries, Chin’ono has worked for eNCA foreign correspondent and producer in Zimbabwe from February 2008 to April 2014. He also worked as a television producer for UK’s ITV News and the Zimbabwe Foreign Correspondent for The New York Times. After shooting Pain in My Heart, he set up Television International in Zimbabwe, a production house that produced news for ITN and South Africa’s e.tv. He has also worked with CNN International as a field producer on special assignments.

Political arrests for Exposing corruption

During the imprisonments of Hopewell Chin'ono
Image during the imprisonments of Hopewell Chin’ono.

In June 2020, Chin’ono exposed Mnangagwa administration of corruption via social media. He used social media to expose allegedly corrupt coronavirus-related contracts for the $60m acquisition of protective equipment for healthcare workers. Chin’ono together with other journalist exposed the son of Emerson Mnangagwa and other government officials to the Scandal. But Collins Mnangagwa and Zanupf denied these allegations saying they’ve “noted with concern the systematic well-choreographed and sponsored attacks on the integrity of the first family by unscrupulous characters such as Hopewell Chin’ono this time targeting the president’s son,”.

Related post: Hopewell Chin’ono encourages youth to vote

On July 20, 2020, Chin’ono’s house was raided and glass doors were smashed, and the prominent journalist was arrested. He was charged with “incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry”. He spent 45 days in prison but upon release on bail, he shed light on on the poor state of the penal system and prisons in the country, which he likened to “concentration camps”. In November 2020 he was arrested again and was charged with contempt of court but prosecutors later dropped the charges. In January 2021 he was arrested for the third time in six months according to his lawyer for communicating falsehoods. This was after police had beaten an infant to death while enforcing lockdown restrictions. His passport was confiscated after these arrests and and was never returned for more than 12 months.[²]

Awards for Chin’ono

  • The 2014 One Media Awards nomination in documentary section for his 2013 documentary: Fearless: Beatrice Mtetwa & the Rule of Law
  • The 2010 BANNF nominations in Canada for A Violent Response documentary film
  • The 2010 Rory Peck Award nomination for feature in London for A Violent Response documentary film
  • The 2008 awards for 2007 documentary film, Pain in My Heart:
    The African Journalist of the year award
  • The Henry Kaiser Foundation award for HIV & Aids Reporting in Africa
  • The Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership award
  • The 2009 USAID Communication Award