Widow Finds Unexpected Love on African Safari

For anyone who's struggling with the loss of a loved one and feels that the world has been turned upside down, Anna Trzebinski has a message.

"I think that it's very, very important to be brave enough to be open-hearted when you've gone through something that could close your heart down," she said.

The fashion designer once embodied the Nairobi, Kenya, version of the soccer mom's life. Born in Germany, she'd moved with her family to East Africa, growing up near the idyllic setting made famous in the movie "Out of Africa." At 24, she married Tonio Trzebinski, a Kenya-born artist, and had two children in quick succession.

"My children really grew up with dirty faces and hair that was far too long, and muddy feet and swimming in rivers and, again, a very different but lovely childhood."

They -- and Tonio -- defined her world.

"What I wanted to do with my life was to support his career as a painter. But it was difficult at times, that's for sure. I was often very unhappy. I don't think I'm different in that from any other woman."

That is, any other woman whose husband was having an affair. Trzebinski's discontent grew as her husband's attention wandered. The bubble burst when, one night almost five years ago, he was shot dead on the way to visit his lover.

The slaying, still unsolved, destroyed Trzebinski's world. It also rocked the international jet set.

"And before we knew it our life stories were plastered across newspapers all over the world, including Vanity Fair. I was reading about my life in a way that I didn't see my life at all."

Trzebinski had no idea how her husband's death would transform her own existence.

"You know I think that I had one life until that point, and then I have another life from that point," she said. "I feel like one of my lives ended there, and something completely different has started."

Numbed by the pain of her husband's death, she turned to the source of solace that had worked so well in the past: the African bush. Along with some girlfriends, she went on safari in the remote high desert of northern Kenya.

"And we had walked for eight hours," Trzebinski said, "hot, tired, exhausted, took our shoes off, laid under a tree, and it was actually one of my girlfriends, turned and said, 'Oh my goodness, who is that person?' And we all turned around to look at him, and I was like, 'Yeah, who is that person?'"

His name, she learned, was Loyaban Lemarti, a 6-foot-1-inch warrior, an aristocratic member of the Samburu tribe. His handsome looks attracted their attention.

"He's got an enormous amount of dignity. An enormous amount of pride. You just felt like you were in the presence of an extraordinary human being," Trzebinski said.

Not only was Lemarti a hunk, he was 10 years younger than she, but he revived her sagging spirits. They took long walks together, conversing in Swahili, and one thing led to another under the glorious African sun.

When it was time for the safari to end, Lemarti told her he didn't want to be without her. He made a big sacrifice by moving to Nairobi. Then, they decided to get married.

"He wanted to make more of a commitment to me than just a relationship," Trzebinski said. "And he wanted to show me and the children that he was committed to us for the very long term."

They were married in a three-day traditional Samburu ceremony with hundreds of guests, including waves of women who had walked eight hours to get there. Trzebinski wore 40 pounds of beadwork and gasped when a bull was sacrificed in her honor.

Then, she settled with her new husband in Nairobi where the noble warrior traded his spear and his Swahili for blue jeans and English, which is getting better every day. The two are living very happily.

"Lemarti and I both feel very strongly that this was just, we were obviously meant to be together because it was quite unlikely that we should meet and I've never felt so fulfilled and so safe and happy before," Trzebinski said.

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