King Ñaca Ñaca (El rey Ñaca Ñaca)

Music piece by:
Sergio Vesely
Testimony by:
Sergio Vesely

'Ñaca-ñaca' was an interjection we used at Camp Melinka whenever we wanted to signal and poke fun at any dark thought that might cross our minds. That may be why it seemed the ideal name to give to the paper maché puppet that played the role of the mean king in the puppet stories we performed to entertain the children who came to visit their captive fathers.

But Ñaca-Ñaca’s important role was more than that. The paper model was borrowed to perform the 'star role' in one of the cultural events we customarily staged every Friday. Events which, it should be pointed out, were attended only by captives and armed guards. It was a “Prisoners’ Show”, full of fantasy.

Ñaca-Ñaca  - the puppet - in his role as mean king, was certainly a third-class king, a dictator who enjoyed ridiculing his prisoners. These were none other than Cinturón de Lana (Woollen Belt), Anillo de Metal (Metal Ring), Huesito (Little Bone) and Caballito de Mar (Seahorse). These were all allegorical figures that had great meaning for us as prime examples of the handicraft that came from the hands of our fellow prisoners.

In this play, Ñaca-Ñaca’s guards – his soldiers – were the Puínes, which directly alluded to the barbed wire. It would have been difficult to make it any clearer: what we were doing was a staged and metaphorical enactment of our own story. And we did it with a good measure of optimism, as shown in the fact that at the end Ñaca-Ñaca loses his voice – that is, his power - and he loses his mind. Thus the captives become free.

The play’s language was so poetic that the Commander, seated as always in the front row, did not get it. If he had understood, we surely would have been punished. On the contrary, at dawn the next day – the flag was raised every morning and the commander or one of his subordinates addressed the “personnel” –  the Commander congratulated the cast of that 'children’s play'.

At our Friday evening performances, a guitar-playing jester acted as director and he narrated the gory tale of the mean king. I wrote this song for him to sing at the beginning of the narrative. "King Ñaca Ñaca" is one of three children’s songs I composed while in prison.


Published on: 23 September 2015

King Ñaca Ñaca was an evil king
master and lord of his private kingdom.
His sceptre and royal chambers were made of silver
his throne and orb were made of gold.
Watch out, King Ñaca Ñaca.

Never has History known a more miserly king
nor one as cruel, sinister, ugly and vain
And when he was in a bad mood
people would say of his demeanour...
Watch out, King Ñaca Ñaca.

Since he was a devilish tyrant
he enjoyed being a hated despot.
The monarch had a thousand enemies
and not a single friend in the district.
Watch out, King Ñaca Ñaca.

King Ñaca Ñaca was an opulent king
who refused his vassals sustenance.
In the hills and valleys of that territory
the people’s feasts were more like wakes.
Watch out, King Ñaca Ñaca.

Until one day his luck changed
and one night, in silence, all the people left.
The king was sleeping and didn’t suspect a thing
the palace guards snored, and snored.
Watch out, King Ñaca Ñaca.

So this brutal dictatorship came to an end
since without servants, power cannot last.
The sad tyrant died broken-hearted
without fuss or ado and with no one by his side.
Watch out, King Ñaca Ñaca.