Zimbabwe journalist Hopewell Chin’ono turns to music to protest

04 February 2021 - 15:16 By Sharon Mazingaizo
Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono arrives at court in Harare on August 7 2020. Having recently been released from his third stint in prison, Chin'ono is turning to music to try to get his message across to the youth.
Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono arrives at court in Harare on August 7 2020. Having recently been released from his third stint in prison, Chin'ono is turning to music to try to get his message across to the youth.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who has been arrested three times in six months, has turned to music as a form of protest against corruption in the country.

Barely a week after his release from a maximum-security prison on bail, Chin’ono composed a reggae song titled Dem Loot, narrating Zimbabwe’s challenges due to corruption and looting.

Chin’ono told TimesLIVE that he was inspired to write the song after noticing that there was an information barrier between the elite, the intellectuals and ordinary youths.

“I challenged the youths to come to the debates about the political discourse in Zimbabwe ... and they said we were using a language they did not feel comfortable with.

“A lot of youths listen to dancehall music. I decided to take the issues of hospitals not working, the roads potholed, jobs not available, and put them as lyrics and sing about the issues,” he said.

“I didn’t expect the song to be as successful as it has been. The song has gone viral, not just in Zimbabwe or Africa, but even in Europe. Perhaps because I am not a professional singer, there is an amazement that this journalist has taken to music and has done it successfully, in a way that people are now talking about the issues in the music that he produced,” said Chin’ono.

The activist-journalist released a short video on Twitter, asking his followers to “find me a good music producer, we must sing against looters and sing them out of town!”

Follow-up versions of the song under the hashtag #demlootchallenge have seen other Zimbabwean producers and singers joining in the challenge, releasing their own jazz and acoustic renditions.

The song has been trending on social media, attracting 120,000 views in 24 hours on Twitter.

The lyrics highlight Zimbabwe’s collapsing health-care sector, high rates of unemployment and lack of access to safe drinking water in most of the country’s suburbs.

Chin’ono was released last week from a maximum-security prison after 20 days on allegations of communicating falsehoods.

TimesLIVE


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