In August 2008, Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan travelled to Somalia to report on a story few wanted to tell - the human price of 20 years of complex conflict, food insecurity and drought in a country the international community had all but abandoned. Little did he know that the price of telling this story would be 15 months in captivity.
On his way to record conditions in a camp holding an estimated 700,000 internally displaced people outside the capital, Mogadishu, Nigel and four others were kidnapped by a criminal gang. Nigel was no longer a 'life'. He was a commodity - and the only buyer was his family.
Nigel was held for 15 months in dangerous and deteriorating conditions. He spent 13 months in isolation and 10 months in ankle chains after an escape attempt. After 462 days, the longest-held captive Australian outside of a prisoner of war situation was released after his family raised, and paid the price to return Nigel's life.
The Brennan family's unrelenting determination to save Nigel was the subject of a Logie-nominated Australian Story episode, aired on Australia's ABC network in May 2010.
A highly regarded photographer, in 2005 Nigel was selected as a finalist in the Leica Documentary Awards for the series Crossroads, and in 2007 as a finalist for the National Photographic Portrait Prize. His photographs are held in galleries and private collections around Australia.
Despite the physical and mental scars of torture, of not being seen as a person, but something for sale, Nigel's self-belief and trademark sense of humour have not only seen him recover, but establish himself as a consultant, public speaker and now, author.
Nigel holds a Bachelor of Arts (Photojournalism) from the Queensland College of Arts - Griffith University and plans to return to his first love - photojournalism.
He lives in a house he built himself in country Queensland and is already thinking of his next destination: Afghanistan. Just don't talk about it with his Mum.
Christened 'The Dirty Hostage' by co-author and sister, Nicky, Nigel Brennan's story is one of survival, resilience and hope. His life is testament to the strength of the human spirit and the unyielding love of a family.
The extraordinary story of their ordeal, The Price of Life, was published in June, 2011.
Client Comments for Nigel Brennan
- I invited Nigel to our corporate strategic workshop to share his experience of being held as a hostage for 462 days in Somalia. My goal was to provide my team and myself with a better perspective of why your family is so important and of the opportunities, people and things we each take for granted everyday. Nigel's presentation was brilliantly presented to us while we enjoyed dinner; he spoke from the heart and made the entire audience including waiters and waitresses pause to listen. He combined this with some video, images and audio phone calls to create what I would frame as one of the most moving presentations I have ever witnessed. I can't recommend Nigel enough. It was an amazing journey he shared with us.
Wiley & Co
- The Price of Life: What Can We Achieved When Called Upon?