King Ñaca Ñaca (El rey Ñaca Ñaca)

Song by:
Sergio Vesely
Testimony by:
Renato Alvarado Vidal
Experience in:

During the last third of the 20th century, the concentration camps of the Chilean dictatorship were characterised by a high grade of organisation among prisoners, as well as the overflowing creativity they applied to all areas of human ingenuity.

From nothing, contraptions to warm up water, radio transmitters and even a solar oven appeared! One day, a group was seeing how this oven - Boris Chornik's creation - worked and one prisoner commented jokingly: 'and then these assholes will wonder why we were prisoners here'.

The majority of inventions happened in arts and crafts. There were sculptures made from any imaginable materials. There were also drawings, paintings, songs and theatre works. This is hardly surprising with the number of artists and intellectuals in there who encouraged the participation of workers and farmers.

There were comrades, like Sergio Vesely, who realised his vocation as a singer-songwriter and wrote 'El Rey Negro' (The Black King), to celebrate the birth of a girl in the camp during a starry June night.

The highlight was the theatre, where the great Óscar 'Cuervo' Castro made existence into a permanent performance. He proclaimed himself Mayor and received the new arrivals with a tricolour plywood banner and a speech as uplifting as it was absurd.

Initially, the theatre performances were meant to entertain the children coming to see their parents during visits. These then generated more complex works played by the prisoners, always under the watchful eye of the commanders who sometimes understood what was happening but often did not.

When the soldier understood the meaning of the work, the piece would not be allowed to be played again. As new pieces appeared regularly and the Commander saw a different one every week, it was always possible to carry on.

The premiere of the new drama about the King Ñaca Ñaca was very well received. The story of this perfidious character's rise and fall was told through a production that combined actors and puppets.

This confused the censors despite the very transparent allegories; the tyrant's henchmen were even called unifernos.A play on the words 'uniforme' (uniform) and 'infierno' (inferno). At the end of the piece, Sargento Primero Núñez said: 'What a beautiful thing, things like this should always be shown.'


Published on: 26 April 2020


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 that 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.