Cheryl Kahla
Audience and Content Strategist
3 minute read
7 Jun 2022
6:00 pm

WATCH: Afrikaans nationality test – ‘Racist’ Ryanair accused of discrimination

Cheryl Kahla

Less than 15% of South Africa's population speaks Afrikaans.

CEO of the low coast aireline Ryanair Michael O’ Leary during a press conference in London, on 2 March 2022. Photo: AFP/Tolga Akmen

South Africans trying to enter the United Kingdom or Ireland have come forward with regards to Ryanair’s general knowledge questionnaire in Afrikaans.

The budget Irish airline introduced the new policy to combat a seemingly “high prevalence in fraudulent South African passports” passing through the airport.

Ryanair under fire for Afrikaans test

However, the test is in Afrikaans – a language spoken by less than 15% of South Africa’s population; and the third-most spoken language after Zulu and Xhosa.

Afrikaans has also long been identified with apartheid and the white minority. Fred Raybould said Ryanair’s policy is “not a good look, pretty racist”.

One netizen, known only as KSW, said: “Afrikaans was imposed during the white dictatorship – its the language of the racist oppressor.”

‘Unofficial, childlike form’

Meanwhile, English-speaking Dinesh Joseph, 45, said in an interview the test felt like “profiling and discrimination”.

Joseph boarded a flight from Gatwick to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on 18 May and said all went well until he tried to return to London on 22 May.

Joseph says: “I was made to fill in the most unofficial, childlike form in Afrikaans to prove what? I know the highest mountain in SA?

“Absolutely discrimination, racial profiling and belittlement”.

Ryanair’s Afrikaans nationality test

The quiz contains 15 questions, including multiple-choice, such as the name of South Africa’s biggest city and the current president. Other questions include:

  • Watter van die volgende is Suid-Afrikaanse hoofstede? (Which of the following are South African capitals?)
  • Wat is Suid Afrika see amptelike geldeenheid? (What is South Africa’s official currency?)
  • Noem drie van Suid Afrika see amptelike tale. (Name three of South Africa’s official languages.)
  • Aan water kant van die pad moet a mens bestuur in Suid Afrika? (On which side of the road should you drive in South Africa?)
  • Wat is Suid Afrika se international landkode, om te bel op die telefoon? (What is South Africa’s international dialling code?)

Responding to media reports earlier this week, the UK Embassy in South Africa said it was not a requirement for South Africans to take an Afrikaans test to prove citizenship.

“This is not a UK Government requirement,” it tweeted, directing them to its website for information about the requirements for South African passport holders to enter the UK.

This was after a netizen known only as Ponky said a friend travelled back to the UK from Portugal and was halted by this “new requirement for South African passport holders”.

Barry Hilton’s version

Meanwhile, comedian Barry Hilton tried his hand rewriting Ryanair’s Afrikaans nationality test.

He said despite his Afrikaans being limited, he was able to “translate the Ryan Air questionnaire given to South African passport holders”.

  1. What is a poephol?
  2. How long should you leave rusks in coffee?
  3. What is another word for box?
  4. What would you call a homeless person on Table Mountain?
  5. How long do you still have after a robot turns red?
  6. What education level do you need to be a political candidate in South Africa?
  7. Explain the difference between a braai and a barbeque?
  8. How many people can you fit into a commuter taxi?
  9. Is Boerewors a sausage or part of a Boer?
  10. What is another name for a cat?
  11. How is travel distance measured in South Africa?
  12. Complete the sentence: I gave him a ….klap
  13. Is a bunny chow a vegetable?
  14. Is Tik the first sound a clock makes?