JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon on Monday paid tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela, saying Mandela had taught the world to live in an exemplary manner.
Ban arrived in Johannesburg earlier in the day to attend memorial service commemorating Mandela, who died of a lung illness on Dec. 5 at the age of 95.
Upon arrival, Ban visited the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory to pay his last respect to Mandela.
Ban said, "The world is mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela. He was the giant of justice, equality and human rights."
Ban told reporters that he was surprised by Mandela's humility in 2009 when they met.
Th UN chief said he thanked Mandela for doing good for mankind, Mandela replied that it was not him only, but millions of the people all over the world, some he even did not know.
"I was struck by Mandela's humility and modesty," Ban said.
Ban hailed Mandela's approach to peace and reconciliation as a model in the world to stop armed conflicts and create peace, expressing appreciation of Mandela's hard work to create a better world.
The world is honoring and celebrating Mandela for the life well lived, Ban said.
Ban toured the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory exhibition which shows Mandela's prison records and his life.
The center's chief executive officer, Sello Hating, thanked the United Nations under the leadership of Ban for making the International Mandela Day, which falls on July 18 to be observed worldwide.