First-person shooter video game franchise ‘Call of Duty’, seems to have found itself in another legal battle over one of its characters based on a real life person. Just like in 2014 when Panama dictator Manuel Noriega filed a suit against the makers of the game for image defamation, another has emerged over the portrayal of late Angolan rebel, Jonas Savimbi.
The family took the makers of the Call of Duty game to court for portraying Savimbi as a barbarian. Cheya, Savimbi’s son complained that his father’s character as portrayed in the game is known on the streets as the one who leads his troops into battle with shouts of “Fight, my brothers!” and “We must finish them – death to the MPLA!”.
Cheya went on to describe the virtual character as nothing like his father. “Seeing him kill people, cutting someone’s arm off … that’s not like Papa,” he said.
Cheya and his siblings who live in France have sued the French branch of the makers of the best-selling video game, Activision Blizzard for 100 million Euros ( ≈ $1.1m ) in damages. Although they insist that this is not for the money rather to preserve their father’s reputation.
Savimbi was the leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), a guerilla movement that opposed Portuguese colonialism in Angola along with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA)
He launched a civil war against the MPLA government which became the ruling party after independence. With the cold war being at its peak at that time, the Soviet Union and Cuba provided support for the MPLA government while the US and Apartheid South Africa supported Unita.
Jonas Savimbi died in warfare in 2002 and his movement ended not long after. The Unita still remains the major opposition party in Angola.
While Activision Blizzard Lawyer Etienne Kowalski believes that the game does portray Savimbi in a favorable light, the family’s lawyer Carole Enfert did not agree. She claimed that he was depicted as a “big halfwit who wants to kill everybody”. She also implied that besides being a warlord, “he was an important person in the Cold War, he was a friend of (Nelson) Mandela,”.