Oh dear. The new nation of South Sudan is already sprouting some early teething troubles about media freedom.

Apparently, President Salva Kiir Mayardit (above) “handed over his beloved beautiful elder daughter,” one Adu Mayardit, to her husband in a wedding ceremony held in the Catholic Cathedral at Rajaf.

One would usually imagine that this would be a joyous occasion, though full of tears appropriate for the tradition of “handing over” (and thereby “losing”) an elder daughter. Instead, Dengdit Ayok, the deputy editor for The Destiny newspaper in the capital Juba, wrote in a now ill-fated column, that the wedding was

attended by a small crowd of people with clouds of sadness gathered in their hearts as it was clear from their faces…because they were upset by the decision taken by the President to give his daughter in wedding to a stranger.

Ayok felt the Sudanese could have exploited the wedding the same way the British monarchy and media did to their young earlier this summer. Instead Ayok only “… witnessed a disappointing social episode.” He claimed the wedding “was found disgusting and denounced by many patriotic South Sudanese across the country.”

Why so disgusted? Was the man a pariah of epic proportions? A war criminal, perhaps?

Nope. She married a “foreigner” when “… many nationals suit her profile for marriage.” And, for good measure, it goes “without saying that it matters not how long she may stay in her father’s house.”

It turns out the groom is a political refugee from Ethiopia.

So there you have it: Xenophobia in the first portion of the sentence, followed by creepy patriarchal rhetoric about how long a daughter may stay with her father (never mind later stuff about the editor’s bafflement about why this father permitted his daughter to marry an alien and a stranger).

After sounding like he was sort of parodying a combination of Albert Camus, the Tea Party, and maybe an Indian Uncle best left behind in another era, Ayok concluded by stating that “because Kiir is a patriotic leader that fought two wars for the well-being of his people,” he is a “valued and highly respected by South Sudanese.” But now that he shunted off his daughter to some interplanetary visitor, said great leader has “… to some extent reduced himself in the eyes of his people” – so much so that our editor’s “heart…is in pain.”

As if all that was not maudlin enough, Ayok added this paragraph:

What else is left if an alien could penetrate all the hedges and invade the house of our President, elope and impregnate his daughter? Where were the security presidential personnel when that strange guy entered the house of the President?

Small wonder, then, that the editor of The Destiny, Ngor Aguot Garang (also a reporter for the Sudan Tribune) was promptly arrested.

So there you have it: the deputy editor is a xenophobe, a male chauvinist and a sexist, but we should all fight for his press freedom now. Like we should.

We have a question for the president’s office: don’t they know about Lindsy Lohan’s PR team? People. Just hire a good publicist and a writer. How much better a response would it have been if the President and his daughter (and perhaps the husband, too) wrote a letter to be published in the same paper –clarifying the joy of being the daughter of a father who fully supports her ability to make strong, healthy, autonomous decisions, and being a part of a new nation that welcomes all–in marriage and otherwise. They would have looked like beacons of family love and national unity, and the deputy editor a gibbering idiot.

H/T: Sbongile Mbiko

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