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‘Insane and discriminatory’: Ryanair’s Afrikaans questionnaire for traveling South Africans sparks backlash

June 6, 2022, 11:01 AM UTC

Ryanair Holdings Plc is ordering South Africans traveling to the UK to complete a list of questions in Afrikaans to prove their identity — only one of 11 official languages spoken in the country.

Europe’s largest low-cost airline imposed the measure to prevent the use of fraudulent passports, the company said in a statement on Monday.   

“If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund,” Ryanair said.

The quiz contains 15 general knowledge questions about South Africa, including a multiple choice to identify the nation’s capital, according to a copy published by the Beeld newspaper. Others asked which side of the road people drive on and the name of the country’s highest mountain.

Afrikaans is the third-most spoken first language in South Africa, behind Zulu and Xhosa. It is a legacy of the earliest colonists from the Netherlands in the 17th century, and was a cause of contention during the apartheid era over attempts to enforce its use in schools.  

News of the measure prompted a backlash on South African social media over the weekend. Alex Macheras, an independent aviation analyst, called it “categorically insane and discriminatory.”

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