In Activision Blizzard’s best-selling video game, Call of Duty; Black Ops 2, the late rebel leader in Angola Jonas Savimbi is depicted as a barbarian. The makers of the video game have Savimbi’s character rallying his rebel troops using phrases like “death to the MPLA”. MPLA, being the ruling political party in Angola since the departure of Portuguese when Angola became independent in 1975.
Jonas Savimbi founded the Unita movement and waged a long-running civil war against the Angolan government. The war that ensued between the government forces and the rebels plunged Angola into a Cold War battleground with the United States and South African apartheid government supporting Unita while the government got support from the Soviet Union and Cuba.
To the rest of the world outside Africa, Savimbi was the poster child of all that was wrong with the continent. Although part of this image was the result of propaganda, it would still be hard to separate what was true and what was pure propaganda mongering. In the Call of Duty video game, Savimbi’s character is built upon some of the confirmed incidences about him.
There were stories of Savimbi ordering the burning of witches alive at his headquarters back in the early 1980s. A biographer Fred Bridgland, who previously admired Savimbi, wrote of a horrifying tale of the murder of the Chingunji family; a family that fell from grace with Savimbi.
The civil war in Angola lasted about 27 years, and both sides of the warring factions have their fair share of the blame for atrocities committed during the war. Thus, it would be unfair to apportion all the blame on one man although many who still remember the reign of Unita will do so with a feeling of awe.
The family of the late Savimbi is quite disturbed by how his character is depicted in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Three of his children have filed a defamation case against Activision Blizzard for depicting him in a very barbarian character. They are seeking $1.1 million in damages.
In its defense, Activision says that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 depicts Savimbi “rather favorable.”
His son, Cheya Savimbi, said, “Seeing him kill people, cutting someone’s arm off…that isn’t Dad.”
Savimbi’s three children who have filed a lawsuit against Activision live in Paris, and they took the French branch of the game maker to court in Nanterre, near the French Capital.
Activision’s lawyer Etienne Kowalski says the video game maker depicted Savimbi as a “good guy who comes to help the heroes.”
The recent Call of Duty video game made it to the top of the best-selling games of the year 2015. This game often features characters of real-life figures. Back in 2014, it found itself in trouble, this time from the former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega who also sued them for defamation. A US court, however, dismissed the case.