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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, NOVEMBER 14, 2001: South African President Thabo Mbeki extended Diwali greetings to Hindus in South Africa and across the world. Diwali marks the return of Hindu gods Lord Ram and Sita from exile to their homeland and symbolizes the victory of divine forces over wicked oppression, and good triumphing over evil, said Mbeki in a statement. "South Africans can well relate to this experience, having emerged from a period of intense oppression. Many of us know only too well the pain of a long and arduous exile." Mbeki commended the Hindu community's role in the freedom struggle and also in South Africa's economic life. "Your spirit of hard work and self-reliance can today, in earnest, stand the whole nation in good stead. May you continue, together with all other South Africans, to light the lamps leading towards a better life for all in our beloved country," said Mbeki.