By Ishmael Dumbuya
Sierra Leone’s colossal cotton tree which has stood for over 400 years in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, has been brought down by a heavy storm on Wednesday night, leaving just a trunk standing.
According to eye witnesses at the scene, it was a chaotic sight, with one eyewitness recounting how the tree fell directly onto a taxi, causing significant damage.
The 230 ft. high cotton tree has been Sierra Leone’s National Symbol for decades. It was under the cotton tree that newly arrived slaves offered prayers before making Freetown their home.
The Cotton Tree has long been regarded as a cultural and historical landmark, revered by both locals and visitors alike. Its fall has sent shockwaves through the country, evoking a mix of nostalgia, sadness. As the city grew over the years, it expanded around the ancient tree at its heart.
In a statement, President Julius Maada Bio said the tree fell after a downpour on Wednesday night. He described it as a “great loss to the nation”, noting that the tree was a symbol of liberty for early settlers. It also appears on Sierra Leone banknotes.