JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — South Africa Thursday said it has given its 2008 humanitarian award to former Cuban president Fidel Castro for his contributions to "humankind beyond boundaries."
Castro, who turned 82 Wednesday, becomes the first non-African and the third ex-head of state to win the "Ubuntu" award, the National Heritage Council of South Africa said in a statement.
"The Ubuntu award is honouring persons who have consistently lived the humanitarian values of the African philosophy of Ubuntu," which defines the individual in terms of their relationships with others.
Castro won the award "for the role he played in the Cuban revolution and worldwide contribution to the struggle for an alternative, just and humane society," the statement said.
It said that Cuban patriots, under Castro, had "shared their blood..fighting colonialism for the liberation of the countries of Africa."
Castro, who ruled Cuba unopposed for nearly half a century, has not been seen in public since July 2006 when he had stomach surgery. His younger brother Raul took over permanently as president in February.
The award is to be presented on September 24, the country's National Heritage Day.
Nelson Mandela was its first recipient in 2006. Last year's winner was former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda.
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