Halo Reach: A Strange Link To South Africa, Durban and Apartheid

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This week I noticed a comment on our site from a reader (for the life of me I can’t find it anywhere now) that mentioned that one of the lead characters in Halo Reach, Commander Carter, is in fact a South African.

At first I was confused, but intrigued. Is the voice actor South African, or the character himself? Turns out that Commander Carter, according to the Reach information released, was in fact born in Durban.

I know what you are all thinking, and no, his Warthog doesn’t have chromed 22’s and neon underglow. I hit the internet to do some investigating and the results were interesting to say the least.

According to the information that I found, which has now also been neatly packaged on the Halo Wiki page, Commander Carter, who you might also know as that guy in the “Birth of a Spartan” Halo live-action short, was born in Biko, Durban.

Upon further investigation, I found out that Durban wasn’t the same Durban that we know from Kwazulu-Kinect. Sorry, I mean Natal. This is what the site had to say:

“Biko was a colony world of the United Nations Space Command, located in the Outer Colonies. It was one of the first planets to be glassed by the Covenant, in 2525. It was home to the major population center Durban.”

What I do find interesting, is that even though a South African city’s name was chosen, the fact that the colony world it’s on is called Biko proves that it is, in fact, a South African theme. For those of you who don’t know or need a refresher, Steve Biko was a very famous anti-apartheid activist who died as a result of torture while in the custody of the South African police force.

The fact that Commander Carter’s birthplace is named after a South African city, and is a part of an outer colony (like, you know, South Africa was) cannot likely be a coincidence.

`What also interested me greatly, is that the info says that Biko was said to be one of the first cities “glassed” aka destroyed by the Covenant. Now, I’m no South African historian but this really reminds me of the early colonization of South Africa and the effect that it had on the people who had already been living here.

Again, I am no historian but I would be really interested to see if any of our readers could shed some light on the matter and let us know if you think Halo Reach has in fact, taken inspiration from South Africa’s history.

At the end of end of the day, it could just be that the World Cup put a bit of a spotlight on our country, causing one of the story writers to think about our sunny nation on that particular day at work. The use of Biko’s name though, makes me think otherwise.

Interesting none the less. What do you guys think?

Last Updated: September 6, 2010

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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