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06th Oct 2022

Woman moves 9,000 miles to marry a Maasai tribesman 30 years younger than her

April Curtin

She was away with her daughter who is the same age as her now-husband

A woman who moved 9,000 miles to marry a Maasai tribesman 30 years younger than her says she “couldn’t be happier”, despite strangers saying he’s “just with her for a green card”.

Deborah Babu, 60, wasn’t expecting to fall in love when she met her now-husband Saitoty Babu, 30, while travelling in Tanzania with her daughter Royce, also 30, in October 2017.

The mother and daughter were walking on a beach in Zanzibar when they bumped into two Maasai offering souvenirs – one of which was Saitoty.

Deborah, a retired police officer, didn’t have any money to buy the souvenirs, but asked if she could have a photo with them as she had never met a Maasai.

“Now looking back at that photo it looks like we were already in love,” she said.

The 60-year-old got talking to the 30-year-old cattle farmer, who asked her to send him the photo. The pair bonded over a beach walk the next evening, where they talked for “hours and hours” and found they had a similar sense of humour, but Deborah didn’t see it going any further because of the age gap.

“I was a happy, single woman and I didn’t seem right to me to date someone 30 years younger,” she said.

Despite this, Saitoty followed her to her next destination in Tanzania and was upset when she had to leave to go back to Sacramento, California, US, two weeks later. The pair kept in touch, and Saitoty called Deborah every day to check in.

“Even if there was a power outage he’d find a way,” Deborah said.

“When he first brought up marrying me I thought he was crazy,” she added.

Deborah’s children encouraged her to “go for it” if he made her happy, so she flew out to meet Saitoty in late December 2017.

Saitoty proposed, and Deborah said yes.

The couple had a traditional Maasai wedding in June 2018, before having their legal wedding in July 2022. They still hope to have a bigger Maasai celebration which will have more family and tribesman coming together.

Deborah now uses her Maasai name Nashipai, and lives with Saitoty and his family in Ubena, Tanzania.

The 60-year-old said it’s a “very different life” living in a mud hut with no running water in the East African country, but that she “couldn’t be happier”.

“He’s the kindest and most caring man I have ever met,” she said.

While their families have been supportive, the couple have faced scepticism from strangers.

Deborah said: “Saitoty has been accused of only being with me for a green card which hurts because I know how little his desire is to live in America.

“People ask if I adopted him or that I’m his grandma which can make Saitoty upset. We just like to focus on us and our happiness.”

Speaking about their marriage Saitoty said: “Having a wife is a big step for me. I’m proud of our marriage.

“It really hurts me seeing mean comments but now I see other people with age gaps and it helps us to just ignore what people say.”

“Age is just a number and it doesn’t stop the love and care I have for my wife.”

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