A giant tree that towered over Sierra Leone's capital for centuries and symbolized freedom to its early residents came down overnight during a heavy rainstorm.
The kapok tree stood in the middle of a roundabout in central Freetown near the national museum and the president’s office.
President Julius Maada Bio called the toppling of the famed tree “a great loss to the nation” as crowds gathered to look at the wrecked trunk.
Passerby Victor Tutu Rogers told Reuters he saw the tree fall around 9:40 p.m. (2140 GMT) on Wednesday, May 24.
This is Freetown’s cotton tree the morning after the storm.— Vickie Remoe 🇸🇱 (@VickieRemoe) May 25, 2023
Seeing this view, we should just keep the trunk as is, The root is still there.
You never know with trees. Just because the top is dead don’t mean it’s not alive.
It’s the roots that matter!
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The tree’s exact age is unknown, but it is attested to have been there in 1787, when freed American slaves, mostly former Black Loyalist soldiers ( also known as Black Nova Scotians, on account of having for a period of time resided in Nova Scotia in modern-day Canada), arrived on the spot that today is the Sierra Leonean capital of Freetown. It is believed that when those former slaves arrived, they gathered under its branches to offer thanksgiving prayers before moving into their new home.
“It was regarded as a symbol of liberty and freedom by early settlers,” President Bio wrote on Twitter.
“We will have something at the same spot that bears testament to the great Cotton Tree’s place in our history. All voices will be brought together for this.”
The iconic Cotton Tree has fallen due to the heavy downpour of rain in our capital this evening. A great loss to the nation. It was regarded as a symbol of liberty and freedom by early settlers. We will have something at the same spot that bears testament to the great Cotton…— President Julius Maada Bio (@PresidentBio) May 24, 2023