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Budget Irish Airline enforces Afrikaans test causing outrage in South Africa

South Africans are appalled and outraged as a result of the new policy being imposed upon them by Irish airline, Ryanair.

This new policy is a test to weed out fraudulent South African passports carried by travelling passengers however, the test or language quiz requires people to speak Afrikaans - a language dating back to the time of white-minority rule - hence the outrage among the black South African people.

Image credit: REUTERS

The statement from the company defended the test stating that:

"Due to the high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports, we require passengers travelling to the UK to fill out a simple questionnaire issued in Afrikaans."

If the test is not completed successfully then they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund.

The problem is that the country has 11 languages and Afrikaans may be one of them but not many can understand the language. The test could have been issued in one of the other 10 languages such as Zulu, Sepedi, Setswana, Siswati and even English.

Black South Africans are reluctant and angered by the imposition of a test that brings up so much emotion due to the history behind it.

Back in May Dinesh Joseph was set to fly from Lanzarote to London and was shocked when Ryanair took his passport and boarding pass before presenting him with the Afrikaans test. He recalled on BBC's Newshour programme that he was seething with rage and anger and a sense of anxiety.

He relayed that "its callous and insensitive to force people to write a test that evokes so much emotion around it." He is well within his rights and entitled to feel that way as Afrikaans was the language of the apartheid a time of extensive oppression for the people of South Africa.

Afrikaans is controversial for being mandatory during the time of the apartheid and was made one of the official languages of South African education. It was the main cause of the 1976 Soweto Uprising against the apartheid regime. It is no longer obligatory but is in fact now optional in schools.

The anger has also been expressed online with people describing the new policy as "bigoted rubbish and others instructing the airline service to educate themselves.

In actuality only 13% of people in South Africa actually speak Afrikaans as their primary language and it is the third most spoken after Zulu and IsiXhosa. The company has not yet provided an answer as to why they require the test is in this language in particular amongst all other.

The airline have not said whether they carry out similar tests for other nationalities but regardless this is not something to look past and the fact they are standing by this policy despite the response from people of colour residing in South Africa is outrageous and extremely ignorant.


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