President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday led an official celebration of the country’s victory over Ebola, which killed 4,700 Liberians.
It was an all-day celebration at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia and across the city following Saturday’s declaration.
There was a lot of dancing, with traditional masked dancers entertaining the ecstatic crowd. Men painted in national colors stood motionless and speechless as statute at major intersections in and around the capital.
Schools were closed to allow students attend the ceremony and the day was observed as a working holiday.
The ceremony featured testimonials from active players in the fight against Ebola, healthcare workers, community leaders and members of the clergy.
WHO’s Liberia Country Representative, Dr. Alex Gasasira read the Ebola-free declaration and handed the certificate to the Liberian government.
President Sirleaf paid tribute to Liberians, specifically members of the country’s security forces for making sure strict measures against Ebola were adhered to, and that officials on the frontline of the disease were provided protection.
She said she and her government was looking at ways and means by which the experiences gained as the result of the combat against Ebola can be shared with the two other worst-affected countries—Guinea and Sierra Leone—so that they, too, can be declared free of the disease.
The President of Togo, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, said Liberia had proven that it could meet future challenges, especially when all Liberians work together as they did with Ebola. He said Liberia had opened another chapter in its history—post-Ebola recovery—for which he cautioned required thorough vigilance as Ebola.
The Foreign Minister of Ghana, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh said it was time for normal activities to be allowed to resume in Liberia.
“Those countries that closed their doors to Liberia, it is time to reopen your borders. Those countries that stopped flights from coming to Liberia, it is time to resume them,” Tetteh said.