Outrage after Ryanair forced South Africans to prove their nationality with controversial Afrikaans test

Irish airline Ryanair has asked South African travelers to take an Afrikaans test to prove their nationality before boarding. Calling it discriminatory, South Africans have condemned the airline’s controversial language test. The policy has caused outrage, but the airline says it still insists that all South Africans traveling to the UK on flights take the test. Ryanair has asked South Africans traveling to Britain and Ireland to complete a questionnaire. In particular, passengers who do not fill it out are refused travel. Tickets are also fully refunded apparently.

The row erupted after the Irish low-cost airline admitted on Monday June 6 that it required South Africans traveling to Britain and Ireland to complete a questionnaire to test their knowledge of Afrikaans.

The airline said in a statement: “Due to the high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports, we ask passengers traveling to the UK to complete a simple questionnaire issued in Afrikaans. If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be denied travel and issued with a full refund.”

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Importantly, Afrikaans was made compulsory during apartheid – and the official language of education, alongside English. At that time, it caused nationwide protests by black South Africans. Afrikaans played a controversial role in the oppression of black citizens during apartheid.

Afrikaans is just one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. It is commonly used by around 12% of the country’s population of nearly 60 million.

Reacting to the incident, South Africa said on Tuesday it was surprised. The country’s Home Office said in a statement: “We are surprised by this airline’s decision as the Department communicates regularly with all airlines to update them on how to validate South African passports. , including look and feel”.

A South African man told the BBC he was “shocked” and felt “downtrodden”. Dinesh Joseph was flying from Lanzarote to London in May. He said the airline gave him the Afrikaans test.

Joseph told the BBC’s Newshour: “I was seething, I felt really triggered… there was a sense of anxiety and anger inside me. It’s callous and callous to force people to write a test that would evoke so much of emotion around him – the language of apartheid was Afrikaans.”

(With agency contributions)


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Post expires at 12:42pm on Sunday June 19th, 2022