Ryanair requires passengers traveling on a South African passport to prove their citizenship. They have to answer a questionnaire about South Africa in Afrikaans, which makes up only 10 to 15 percent of South Africa as a first language. According to Ryanair, the test is the result of a growing number of fake South African passports.
The questionnaire contains fifteen general knowledge questions about South Africa, including what is the capital of the country and what is called the highest mountain. The fact that the test is in Afrikaans is great because this language is associated with apartheid and is spoken by only 10 to 15 percent of the South African population.
“If people cannot complete the survey, their flight will be canceled and they will be refunded,” a Ryanair spokesperson told the news agency. Reuters† Ryanair is the largest airline in Europe. The Irish company has no direct flights between the UK and South Africa. The questionnaire must be completed by all South African passengers wishing to travel to the UK from Ryanair airports.
The UK Embassy in South Africa says a language test is not a requirement from the British government to accept travelers. Opponents believe Ryanair places unnecessary additional requirements on the basis of nationality and language and thus discriminates.
Afrikaans is the third most spoken language in South Africa, after Zulu and Xhosa. Most South Africans speak English, but as a second language. Afrikaans is widely spoken in the south of the country, such as the coastal region around Cape Town. It is also spoken in Namibia. About one in eight South Africans have Afrikaans as their mother tongue.
The language is a daughter language of Dutch and was developed in South Africa by Dutch settlers who settled there since the 17th century. It was later seen as the language of the “white oppressor” in the apartheid regime since 1948. Until the end of that regime in 1994, Afrikaans was the official language of South Africa. Today, South Africa recognizes eleven official languages.
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