Sierra Leone’s Iconic Cotton Tree Collapses After Heavy Wind Storm In The Capital

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Photo showing the side view of NASSIT destroyed by the fallen Cotton Tree on Wednesday night. Photo credit Ishmael Sallieu Koroma,Pan African Visions

Sierra Leone’s Iconic and historical Cotton Tree which stands at the centre of the capital, Freetown, has on Wednesday night collapse after heavy wind and thunder storm.

The tree is said to be over 500-year-old has a unique history and it is believed that the first freed slaves used the tree as a source of refuge and shelter.

Arriving at the scene on Thursday afternoon, President Julius Maada Bio told journalists that the collapse of the tree was surprising to him but said it was nature adding that it might have happened as a result of climate change.

‘’This is a surprise, we never thought it will fall but its nature and may be climate change is here and it telling us it is here. We have to change our ways or it is going to teach us a lot of lessons,’’, Bio told journalists.

Sierra Leone Iconic Cotton before it collapse

Bio added that, his government will make sure to keep the history of the iconic tree but said it will be a collective responsibility as a city and as a nation.

‘’I have come to look at it but I think we have to consult but definitely I want to have a piece of this history wherever I find myself. At the State House, at the museum, at the city Hall and the initial thoughts we can carved out historic figures so that we can still maintained the history of this great tree,’’ Bio further added.

Former Mayor of the Freetown Municipality Yvonne Aki- Sawyerr wrote on her Facebook ‘’I feel a deep sense of loss which I know is shared by many Freetonians. The Cotton Tree was the centre of our city in so many ways and a part of all of our experiences and history…‘’

Alex Bisodu Davies 92, expressed sadness over the falling of the cotton tree adding that growing up he enjoyed the beauty of the tree which stands at the centre of the capital city.

‘’ The Cotton tree represent Sierra Leone, it represents our history. That is why I have come all the way from home with my grandchild to see the fall of this great tree. What they should do now is to clear the debris and plant another tree again,’’ he said.

Citizens at the Cotton Tree. Photo credit Ishmael Sallieu Koroma, Pan African Visions

Popular Sierra Leonean singer Mos- B based in France wrote on his Facebook: ‘’Sleep well, watcher of the nation. Under my watch, I have seen slaves set free from America. Under my watch, they came here and seek shelter under my covering. Under my watch, I have seen my country being colonized by Great Britain…..’’

An eye witness, Alieu Dukuray, said that he was at his office at around 9pm in the evening when it started raining, no sooner he heard a huge thunder and storm adding that suddenly the tree started to fall.

‘’ I was observing through the window of my office, a wonderful incident happened last night, I took out my phone and I started videoing. I was the first person to broke the news of the cotton tree falling   and said in the video oh alas the cotton tree was going down. I feel bad because seeing this tree is an historic one, it beautifies this part of the city,’’ he said.

Opposition politician Dr. Samura Kamara took to twitter expressing sadness over the collapse of the tree thus urging the nation to honour its legacy.

Sierra Leone Iconic Cotton before it collapse

‘’I’m sorry to have seen the devastating loss of the National Cotton in Freetown. This iconic symbol of freedom, built by free slaves over 236 years ago, has been struck down by bad weather. It’s a stark reminder that we need to find new ways of doing things. Ways that guarantee freedom and prosperity for all. Let’s honor the legacy of those who planted the National Cotton by coming together to build a brighter future for Sierra Leone and its people,’’Dr. Samura Kamara wrote on his twitter account on Thursday.

A number of volunteers from the military, the police and other institutions were at the scene to clear the debris, clean and to cut the huge trunks of the fallen tree.

The fallen cotton tree caused the destruction of some parts of the country’s National Social Insurance Trust Building (NASSIT), a building opposite the iconic tree.


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