'The Way You Smell'

A Group of Namibians from the Zemba tribe were thrown off a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ aircraft in the Netherlands over the weekend “because of the way they smell”.

The seven-member group, comprising four Zembas and three translators, were told to leave the plane minutes before it was scheduled to take off. This came after other passengers allegedly complained about the smell of these semi-nomadic Namibians.

The group were in the Netherlands for close to three weeks for the filming of a reality show, ‘Greetings from the Jungle’.

After they were told to disembark – apparently without being informed why – they were taken to a hotel and could only fly to Namibia the next day.

The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) has lashed out at the incident, saying that KLM undermined the people’s human and cultural rights.

Willem Odendaal of the LAC said: “That is unacceptable behaviour. They [KLM] are fairly ignorant about cultural diversity, specifically in the Netherlands where it is claimed that everything goes. It is a violation of their cultural and human rights.”

He wanted to know whether the Zemba people were “seen as primitive and therefore exploited”.

Like the Himbas, Tjimbas and the Twas, the Zembas live in northwestern Namibia where they mainly herd cattle.

They apply a traditional red, fatty skin lotion which has a particularly pungent smell.

Although the LAC has no jurisdiction in the Netherlands, Odendaal said KLM will have egg on its face once the story is published internationally.

Ellen van Ginkel, KLM’s spokesperson, said some passengers on the Saturday flight had complained of “discomfort, in this case the odour of the people”. As a result, they were refused to stay on the plane.

Van Ginkel said this is in accordance with KLM’s policy of ensuring “all passengers to have a comfortable flight”.

Asked what exactly the discomfort entailed, she said: “There is nothing wrong with the odour, but it is a strong smell and creates discomfort.”

She said she did not experience the smell herself. “I can only say what the other passengers said.”

She refused to comment on whether the action was discriminatory, saying: “I don’t answer personal questions, so I won’t respond to that.”

Source.

Comments

comments

Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

8 Comments
  1. Oh, boy. KLM had been one of my favorite airlines, but now I won't use them again. Why couldn't some consistently wretched airline–say, United–have shot itself in the foot this way?

  2. Guys, if they stank they stank. Can you imagine being in that enclosure for hours until landing, with no fresh air? I think they could also be considerate not to se that pungent stuff on the flight and carry on when they land. Geez, lets be fair people,

  3. When this "Greetings from the jungle" (seriously!!!) airs….the passengers on that flight can tell everyone how they met the poor primitive souls and they have this repulsive scent….i mean smell! ….plus its not their fault….you know these africans!

  4. I wonder if the staff of that KLM flight would have done the same if it would have been a group of Whites and if passengers would have complained just the same…or if there would have been another solution to solve this issue….

  5. This is the airline that told me that they don't care if some passengers (myself included) are allergic to their lavender-scented moist towelettes, because they can't be concerned about one passenger's cabin comfort.

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