The family of late Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi are suing the makers of Call of Duty over his depiction in the best-selling video game. Three of Savimbi’s children accuse Activision Blizzard of defamation by representing him as a “barbarian”. They are seeking €1m ($1.1m; £0.75m) in damages. Activision said the depiction was “rather favourable”.
Savimbi founded the Unita movement, waging a long civil war with the Angolan government. Angola became a Cold War battleground, with Unita backed by the US and the apartheid government in South Africa, while Angola’s ruling party was supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba.
The rebel leader was eventually killed in clashes with state forces in 2002. In the last years of the Angolan war, Jonas Savimbi became a symbol to the outside world for everything that was wrong in Angola. Although it’s difficult to separate the truth from the propaganda and the “Heart of Darkness” stereotypes that stick to many African conflicts, Savimbi’s reputation is based on some confirmed incidents. Suspected witches were burnt alive at Savimbi’s headquarters in the early 1980s.
Fred Bridgland, Savimbi’s previously admiring biographer, later wrote a horrifying tale of the murder of the Chingunji family who had fallen from grace with Savimbi. Yet the Angolan civil war lasted for 27 years and both sides committed acts of brutality. It would be wrong to pin everything on one man, who is still remembered with awe by many who lived under the rule of Unita, and admired by a generation that has grown up since the war.