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Sierra Leone’s iconic Cotton Tree destroyed by storm is to be preserve at mesuem

Sierra Leone’s iconic Cotton Tree destroyed by storm

Authorities announced on Thursday that a storm had obliterated a colossal, 400-year-old tree in Sierra Leone, which had been a profound symbol of freedom. Fondly known as the “Cotton Tree,” this Ceiba pentandra stood an impressive 70 meters (230 feet) tall and spanned 15 meters (50 feet) in width. It had long been revered as an emblematic representation of the nation.

 Sierra Leone Iconic tree
Sierra Leone Iconic tree


During the late 18th century, when enslaved individuals who had fought alongside the British in the American War of Independence settled in West Africa, it is believed that they sought solace and offered prayers beneath this tree. President Julius Maada Bio expressed his deep regret at the loss of the esteemed national symbol, stating, “Every Sierra Leonean will reflect upon this significant loss of the Cotton Tree.”


Throughout the ensuing centuries, residents of Freetown continued to gather beneath the towering tree, situated near the national museum, central post office, and the highest court of the country, to offer their prayers. It became an iconic landmark of Freetown, featured on currency notes, commemorated in children’s nursery rhymes, and even visited by Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate Sierra Leone’s independence in 1961.


Comparing the magnitude of the loss to the fire that consumed the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in 2019, the government press agency Zabek International acknowledged the profound impact of this event. After the wreckage was cleared, only a stump remained, leaving Freetown’s Chief Administrator Festus Kallay to remark, “The city skyline of Freetown will never be the same again.”


In response to the tragedy, President Bio pledged to engage all stakeholders in creating a new monument at the same location, while also exploring ways to preserve remnants of the tree. Recognizing the Cotton Tree as an embodiment of the country’s national narrative, Bio emphasized the significance of reigniting, nurturing, and cultivating the enduring African spirit it had symbolized for so long.

The loss of the Cotton Tree has left a void in the hearts of Sierra Leoneans, but it has also sparked a renewed determination to honor its legacy and ensure that its significance endures. President Bio, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and collective effort, expressed his commitment to engaging “all voices” in the process of creating a new monument at the very spot where the majestic Cotton Tree once stood.


In addition to erecting a new symbol, discussions have turned to preserving remnants of the fallen tree. Recognizing that nothing in nature lasts forever, the focus now lies on safeguarding tangible fragments that can serve as a tangible connection to the past. These remnants would carry the weight of history and bear witness to the enduring spirit of the nation.


Sierra Leoneans, deeply rooted in their history and culture, understand that the Cotton Tree’s significance extends far beyond its physical form. It represents a nation’s journey, resilience, and aspirations. As plans are set in motion to create a new monument and preserve remnants, there is a shared determination to kindle and foster the powerful African spirit that the Cotton Tree had long embodied.


The loss of the Cotton Tree has evoked a profound sense of reflection and unity among Sierra Leoneans. From the ashes of devastation, a renewed spirit of resilience and national pride is emerging. The Cotton Tree will forever remain an integral part of Sierra Leone’s collective memory, its story woven into the fabric of the nation’s identity.


As Sierra Leone moves forward, guided by the lessons and symbolism of the Cotton Tree, the nation stands united in preserving its rich heritage, nurturing its people, and embracing the future with a renewed sense of purpose. Through the loss of one symbol, a new chapter is unfolding—one that embraces the spirit of the past while forging a path towards a vibrant and promising future.


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My name is Ernest Arthur, a writer for MyNewsAfrica under the stage name Ernest East. I was born and raised in Dunkwa-On-Offin, a small town in the central Region of Ghana. As a journalist, I hold myself to high standards of accuracy, fairness, and integrity in my reporting. I'm committed to upholding the principles of journalism and to bringing transparency and truth to the news. Today, I stand tall as one of Ghana's most respected journalists, and I'm proud to have contributed to the growth and development of the country's media landscape. I'm excited about the future and can't wait to continue sharing stories and making a difference through my work. Email: Watsap:+233553678245