Singer-songwriter Jeangu Macrooy will represent host nation the Netherlands at Eurovision 2021. He was originally due to sing his intimate ballad “Grow” at last year’s contest. But for 2021, he has found empowerment within himself. Singing “Birth of a New Age”, Jeangu is telling a story of the past, the present and the future.

Scroll down for “Birth of a New Age” lyrics.

The Netherlands in Eurovision 2021: Jeangu Macrooy “Birth of a New Age”

“Birth of a New Age” is written by Jeangu himself alongside Perquisite, with whom Jeangu writes all his material. Jeangu was reselected as the Dutch participant for Eurovision following the cancellation of last year’s contest.

“Birth of a New Age” is special because its lyrics are partially in Sranan Tongo, the local language of Jeangu’s birth country Suriname. Sranan was born as a Dutch and English-based creole language initially used by slaves to communicate with each other. Nowadays, it is still an important language of intercultural communication in Suriname. Jeangu will be the first ever contestant to perform the language at Eurovision.

Jeangu Macrooy told NPO Radio 5’s Volgspot why he chose to incorporate the language into his entry:

“I grabbed back to my roots and I used Sranan, because it empowers me a lot. I know where I come from. The [Sranan] saying on which the song is based on — Mi na afu sensi, no wan man e broko mi [meaning “I’m half a cent, but you cannot break me”] — is a way to say that although I seem small and useless, I know that I cannot be broken and that I know my own values. That you shouldn’t underestimate me. It thinks back to the moment in which it has its origin, the period shortly after the abolition of slavery.”

What do the “Birth of a New Age” lyrics mean?

Jeangu Macrooy’s Eurovision 2021 entry has many layers. He has described it as a universal story of standing up for yourself when everybody is trying to get you down. About the lyrics, Jeangu tells RTL Boulevard:

“I am an optimistic person and the past year was very hard for everyone. But instead of looking around and focus on what’s bad, you can also find the power within yourself and believe that everything will be fine in the end. It’s my way to say: don’t underestimate me, you cannot get me down.”

He elaborated further with Volgspot, :

“The song is about many different things. You can look around and think: the world is collapsing, it is all going awry and there are all tensions, but I see all kinds of people around me standing up for themselves. And standing up for who they are. Them taking back the respect and space they deserve. That inspires me and gives me the feeling that it all will be fine. There are people that are using their voice to change things so it will be better for everyone else.”

“Black Lives Matters has made a large impression on me, and a large impact on me as a human. But I am also looking at the queer community, of which I am part, and there’s also still a struggle for emancipation on different levels. And next to that, the song is about conquering something difficult and eventually the transition to a time in which it will all be fine.”

Since the Black Lives Matter protests of last summer, more and more Dutch people are getting educated on the country’s past wrongdoings and the existing discrimination faced by the black community and minorities in general.

Shortly after the protests, the general support for the traditional depiction of Zwarte Piet declined sharply to 47% in comparison with 71% a year earlier. Back in March, during the general elections, the Netherlands elected Sylvana Simons to parliament, its first black female party leader, who fought to make the voice of the black community heard in The Hague.

In its first verse, “Birth of a New Age” clearly focuses on the issue of repression. It starts as a dialogue with a black person, telling this individual that the repressors will be called out for this behaviour at some stage.  Central in this first verse is the listener being told that there is power inside them: “your rhythm is rebellion”.

In the chorus, Jeangu uses the Surinamese proverb “Mi na afu sensi, no wan man e broko mi” (I’m but half a cent, but you cannot break me”) as a way to show that he found empowerment in his own roots. He uses the second part of the proverb to show this, repeatedly singing “Yu no man broko mi” (You cannot break me).

In the second verse, the lyrics of “Birth of a New Age” directly refer to colonial wrongdoings. The lines “They buried your gods/ They imprisoned your thoughts” and “They tried to drain you of your faith/ But you are the rage that melts the chains” refer directly to the colonialist forced assimilation policies towards slaves and to slavery in general.

The bridge meanwhile refers to the increasing empowerment and visibility of the previously marginalised people: “We are the fruit/ Adoring the legacy/ Of every forgotten revolutionary”. And that holds strong today — in 2020, the revolutionary Anton de Kom became the first Surinamese-born historical figure to be added to the Canon of the Netherlands, a list of the fifty of the most important topics or persons in Dutch history. De Kom, who was not a well-known historical figure to many Dutch people, was added on the basis of his resistance efforts and his anti-colonist writings.

The second part of the bridge turns towards power and pride as it shows that all people are “born in resilience”. The line after that – “Proud like a lion” – is a classic Dutch saying, showing pride in your Dutch roots, referring to the lion being the national animal of the Netherlands. The song concludes by repeating the Surinamese proverb in full.

Birth of a New Age lyrics – Jeangu Macrooy (The Netherlands Eurovision 2021)

Lyrics and music: Jeangu Macrooy, Pieter Perquin

Skin as rich as a starlit night
Your rhythm is rebellion
Deep currents running in the rivers of your eyes
Your rhythm is rebellion
They spat on your crown
And they poisoned your ground
Your rhythm is rebellion
They burned your heroes at the stake
But your voice will echo all their names
This ain’t the end, no!
It’s the birth of a new age
YU NO MAN BROKO MI (You can’t break me)

Soul blazing like a hurricane
Your rhythm is rebellion
Spirit roaring wild like untamed flames
Your rhythm is rebellion
They buried your gods
They imprisoned your thoughts
Your rhythm is rebellion
They tried to drain you of your faith
But you are the rage that melts the chains
This ain’t the end, no!
It’s the birth of a new age
We are the fruit
Adorning the legacy
Of every forgotten revolutionary
Born in resilience
Proud like a lion
We are the birth of a new age

YU NO MAN BROKO MI (You can’t break me)
MI NA AFU SENSI (I’m half a cent)

Read more Eurovision 2021 lyrics.

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Safiya
Safiya
1 month ago

One of the best, if not the best, lyrics this year.

Candy
Candy
1 month ago

Could they choose a song worse than this. The right word for this song is “out of the whole Eurovision concept”

Thisisntourlastdance
Thisisntourlastdance
1 month ago

This is coming dead last in the final, dreadful. I like him though

OberonYronwood
OberonYronwood
1 month ago

Absolutely heart wrenching lyrics, what a great song. Hopefully this song will be appreciated by both jury and public.

Sabrina
Sabrina
1 month ago

In my opinion, the most beautiful, meaningful and powerful lyrics in Eurovision 2021. Jeangu should write a musical.

Denis
Denis
1 month ago

Just realised that this will be the first year with double Suriname representation. Both Edsilia and Jeanguu! That is really cool..

sTommie
sTommie
1 month ago
Reply to  Denis

Edsilia’s parents are from Aruba and Curaçao.

GojoSatoru
GojoSatoru
1 month ago
Reply to  sTommie

Why does someone dislike your comment while you are just stating some facts, which can easily be found on the internet?

Bianca Rossi
Bianca Rossi
1 month ago
Reply to  Denis

Just because she is black doesn’t mean she is connected to Suriname.. Weird, right? :PP

Lorenzo Celli
Lorenzo Celli
1 month ago

This give me really happy vibes

Mr X
Mr X
1 month ago

One of the most underrated songs this year. What a great hymn !