While on a conference trip in Mexico in 1993, I witnessed an incident which, though it was not entirely new to my experience and background in a rural outback of West Africa, nevertheless reminded me of the deep paradox of our existence and perceptions of progress and triumph at the turn of the 21st century. In the lobby of a three-star hotel in the heart of Guadalajara, a scantily attired child, hastily painted in the colors of an indigenous performer, having perhaps done the make-up himself, made gestures towards staff and visitors. He was six at most, possibly five, and he was there because he was not in school. He was there because he could not be in school.
For all the time I was in Guadalajara I had made a point to count how many indigenous people were on the streets, in cars, commuting to work in the busy traffic of an early, city morning, walking down the corridors at the national university of technology, shopping along Pablo Neruda Avenue. This is an old habit for which I implore your pardon, but one that I have had use for in every new city in order to anchor . . .
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