Nigel Brennan tells his amazing story of survival, resilience and hope. He is testament to the strength of the human spirit.
An Aussie bloke, Nigel was born in country NSW, attended The Armidale School before studying hospitality in Sydney. He worked in hospitality for 4 years prior to his first overseas adventure. It was during this trip through Europe and Asia that he found his passion for photography. Upon returning to Australia he completed his studies in Photojournalism at the Queensland College of art – Griffith University. He completed his degree at the end of 2003 then spent the following year building his own home in Queensland.
A highly regarded photographer, in 2005 Nigel was selected as a finalist in the Lieca Documentary Awards for the photographic series “crossroads”, in 2007 he was selected as a finalist for the National Photographic Portrait Prize for a picture of Catherine Hamlin. He currently has a number of photographs held in galleries and private collections around Australia. In 2007 he secured a role with APN newspapers in Bundaberg. And 2008 saw him back overseas working as a freelance photojournalist.
August 2008 Nigel travelled to Somalia with a Canadian journalist to cover the humanitarian and food crises, the ongoing conflict and drought that has ravaged Somalia for nearly 20 years. Four days after arriving in Mogadishu they were ambushed just outside the capital on the way to photograph internally displaced camps. They were to be held hostage for the next 462 days, making him the longest held living captive in Australian history outside a prisoner of war situation.
During the 15 months the conditions under which they were held deteriorated dramatically. After an escape attempt and recapture in January 2009, he was chained around the ankles for the remaining 10 months, until being finally released on 26 November, 2009. For 13 months he was held in isolation, in a room 3x5 meters and often in the dark. During their time being held hostage they were subjected to both physical and mental torture.
After liquidating family and personal assets, accepting donations and fundraising. The families paid a ransom of over $600,000 US. Upon release he had lost over 15 kilos in weight and was suffering from a number of medical conditions.
Nigel released a book with his sister Nicole 'The Price of Life' about his ordeal in Somalia and what his family had to go through to save his life. The Brennan family story was also the subject of a Logie nominated Australian Story episode aired on the ABC in 2010. In 2022 Nigel featured in Ch10 The Traitor series.