Passion and purpose are sometimes hidden from view by the complexities of the world and the daily stresses of our lives. They reveal themselves when we are ready, through serendipitous experiences that cement our belief that this is what we are meant to be doing. For Brolin, it was a constant evolution, but his passion was sparked in 2004 when he was 12 years old and saw snow for the first time.
Uganda and Wyoming are roughly the same size in square miles, yet you can count on one hand the amount of times the words Uganda and Wyoming have been used in the same sentence. For Brolin Mawejje, however, his destiny would be shaped by the intersection of these two vastly different cultures and environments.
Brolin was born in 1992 in Kampala, Uganda but currently claims Jackson, WY as his home. Over the past ten years, Brolin’s unique journey has taken him from Uganda to the U.S. and around the world as he rides under his home country’s flag in pursuit of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics. If he can pull it off, he will become the first rider to ever represent an African country in any discipline of snowboarding in the Winter Games.
As a young boy in Uganda, Brolin quickly learned two things about his country: it is wet and it is hot. He awoke early to beat the scorching sun as he walked the five kilometers to school every day. The classroom provided a sanctuary where he could explore the depths of his mind, hungry for knowledge. In primary school, grades were a hot topic as the teacher regularly ranked students’ performance from first to last for the whole school to see. Brolin was a natural competitor and his goal was to always be at the top. Anything else would result in drastic consequences from a father who ruled with an iron fist and believed that education was the key to anything remotely tied to the idea of success.
At home, Brolin was given the same chore routine that you might expect to be handed out to a rancher’s son in the Western U.S. Sweeping the foyer, washing dishes with the little water that was gathered from the village well, and plucking chickens became some of his main duties. To make sense of the world we rely on many different kinds of information. A child perceives reality through experience with no outer knowledge of the world at large. Brolin’s reality was school and chores with his only notion of a world outside Kampala being what he saw on TV in the shopkeeper’s window where recordings of The Brady Bunch played on repeat.
Brolin’s mother had moved to the U.S. when he was less than two years old. He grew up thinking he was devoid of a mother, however, she was spending her time working in Boston as a hospice nurse saving up to bring her to children to the states. It took her ten years to find the resources to bring her children over to the U.S but, in 2007, a 12-year-old Brolin boarded a plane bound for the U.S. and his life changed forever.