Al Qaeda’s longest held prisoner. Not being mentally, physically or emotionally equipped for this event, he had to learn to survive.
In 2011, Stephen McGown, a British/ South African tourist on a motorcycle, was abducted by Al Qaeda up in North Africa, Mali. He was taken without choice far into the Saharan desert for the following 6 years to be either negotiated out of captivity or executed.
Hidden from the local Malian and Western military forces and all their military hardware, he was forced to change camps regularly. He faced food shortages, water shortages, the severity of living outdoors in the Saharan climate and the overwhelming anxieties and insecurities of whether he’d survive to ever see his family again.
With no contact with his family nor the outside world, he had to take control of himself, step up and adapt mentally and physically. Six years later he was released to return home to his family.
As a normal guy whose life was thrown into disarray, he has become a much sought after speaker with his self-taught methods of adjusting, being resilient and making the most of what life throws at us. “If they are not going to kill me then I might as well use this time to go home a better person”.
As we all live in the real world having our own challenges, he was living in another world. Although there were many different challenges to what we experience, he faced many challenges that we do relate to, such as working in a diverse team, breakdowns in communication, dealing with disappointments and the need to exercise self-control and discipline. The only difference was that his was a “life and death” situation.
Stephen’s story can be directed towards many specific areas of interest. His talk promises to inspire and leave his audience questioning their own attitude and dilemmas.
Stephen wrote a book which was published in December 2020. It became a best seller within the first five weeks and won the 2021 Adult Non-Fiction category at the South African Book Awards. The book has subsequently been released globally and is currently being turned into an international feature film.
Stephen is from Johannesburg where he went to school and attended university. Having spent 7 years in the UK prior to his abduction, he and his wife are now back in South Africa where he has gained a huge following as a professional speaker, both locally and internationally.