MONROVIA, Liberia — The chief of staff for the Armed Forces of Liberia, Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Ziankahn Jr., hung up his navy blue suit, put on a bright yellow jersey and shorts, then bounded toward a sandy field.
Nine months earlier, his soldiers fired live rounds into the seaside slum of West Point and beat residents after rioting broke out on the first day of a government quarantine of the neighborhood during the Ebola epidemic.
But now, rather than manning a barricade, his troops were playing a soccer match intended to help repair the rift between the security forces and the residents of West Point.
On Saturday, the day Liberia’s Ebola epidemic was officially declared over, the players scuffled and tumbled back and forth on a makeshift soccer pitch flanked by hundreds of community members, most of them cheering for the side in black, their own West Point All Star team.
It was a stark contrast to last summer, when a holding center for Ebola patients was set up in the same part of Monrovia, the capital, without the community’s consent. Residents feared that the government was importing the disease into their neighborhood, and some ransacked the center a few days after it was established.