Lewis’ different message to Bermuda’s youth

  • Tough talk: after prison, Kellan Lewis, 28, seeks to share a positive philosophy (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

    Tough talk: after prison, Kellan Lewis, 28, seeks to share a positive philosophy (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

A young man’s account of his descent into crime and the hard lessons brought back was unveiled to the public this week.

Kellan Lewis, 28, told an audience at the Bermuda National Library on Wednesday night: “The purpose of this book is to bring change.”

Street Philosophy was written in prison, after Mr Lewis was given a 12-year manslaughter sentence in May 2010 for his role in the killing in 2008 of 18-year-old Kellon Hill.

Released from prison in December 2014, Mr Lewis said he intends to bring “workshops for individuals in the community who are looking to make a difference, but don’t know how”.

“You have to bring individuals from the street to meet with people in the community, to find out what they need to move forward,” he said.

Mr Lewis said his website, www.realambitiouslife.com, was aimed at sharing the success stories of others and connecting people, as well as selling his book and merchandise.

Written five years ago, the book’s title Street Philosophy came from “dealing with individuals from the street in prison, who taught me a lot”.

He said: “To understand the mindset of the individual on the street, we have to understand how they think and believe what they believe. I used my life as a primary example.”

Mr Lewis attributed his first crimes to street affiliations that sprang from “us wanting to be part of something bigger than ourselves”.

He added: “People on the street are looking for a platform to use their talents and strengths. Unfortunately, there is no platform available, and we use our geniuses and talents the wrong way.”

The book chronicles a spiral into crime leading to “glorification”, increasing trouble with the law, and ultimately standing trial for murder at the age of 16.

Mr Lewis said he came to know himself for the first time in the isolation of jail.

He added: “On the street, before I was incarcerated, I was constantly in the company of my friends, never by myself.

“I never took time to figure out who I was. A lot of people are living this today. They don’t have the opportunity to discover who they are.”

Mr Lewis told the gathering of about 40, including Commissioner of Corrections Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Lamb, that crime “comes down to one thing — money”.

“Some people would argue with me,” he added. “But even if you could prove to me it doesn’t, somewhere along there, money is involved.

“Just this year, everything is starting to come back because of one thing — money.”

Building on his own experience as a young rapper, Mr Lewis said he had connected local artists to representation, and was “often asked” to share his story at high schools.

“I want to bring two parties together: young people who have skills and people in the community who want to help young people,” he said.

“I’m sure everybody is one, two, four people removed from somebody who can help. You have young guys that are into music, but they end up getting caught up if they have no platform.

“If we can create networks, a system of bridges to other places, we will be able to make change.”

Mr Lewis said his website was a chance to run a home-grown business: along with jerseys, it carries his book, locally printed by ProServe, for $22.

He said his six-year-old daughter, Kayuni, was working to bring her own lip gloss to market through the site.

Mr Lewis said his hope was to set a positive example through creativity.

“Some people like to drag their feet,” he said. “I’m not that type of guy. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done.”

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