“¿Dónde jugarán los niños? / Where will the children play?” is the song that gave its name to the third album by the Mexican rock group Maná. It was published in 1992; sadly, the message embedded in the lyrics and the concerns expressed about the sustainability of our future are more relevant today. This song addresses the nostalgia, pain and intergenerational trauma generated by the effects of pollution and climate change.
The song has three parts. First, the song begins with a recollection of a grandfather’s memories of growing up in connection with nature.
|“Cuenta el abuelo que de niño él jugó
Entre árboles y risas
Y alcatraces de color
Recuerda un río transparente y sin olor
Donde abundaban peces
No sufrían ni un dolor
Cuenta mi abuelo de un cielo muy azul
|“Grandfather says that as a child he played
Between trees and laughter,
and gannets of colour
Remember a transparent river without smell
Where fish abounded, they did not suffer a single pain
Grandfather tells of a very blue sky
Where he flew kites that he built himself”
The next verse is the story’s turning point: the grandfather died, and it implies that with his loss their future also vanished.
|“El tiempo pasó y Nuestro viejo ya murió”||“Time passed and our old man has died”|
The song then closes with the grandchild raising his voice, denouncing what they have lost, what was taken from them, and expressing the fear, anxiety and anger over what is left for the generations to come, for their children, our children.
|“Y hoy me pregunté
Después de tanta destrucción
¿Dónde diablos jugarán los pobres niños?
La tierra está a punto de partirse en dos
¿Dónde diablos jugarán los pobres Niños?”
|“And today I wondered, after so much destruction.
Where the hell will they play?
The poor children?
Oh, oh, oh, where will they play?
The world is rotting, there is no place anymore
The Earth is about to split in two
The sky has already been broken; the grey cry has already been broken
The sea vomits rivers of oil incessantly
And today I wondered, after so much destruction. Where the hell will they play?”
Listen to the full song here.
*Note: there is an analogy here, a connection, to the Cat Stevens’ song Where do the children play?
Feature Image: Ron Lach, On Pexels. Creative Commons