Historic “Cotton Tree” in Sierra Leone, Symbol of National Pride, Toppled by Storm

Historic “Cotton Tree” in Sierra Leone, Symbol of National Pride, Toppled by Storm

…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.

A centuries-old, towering tree known as the “Cotton Tree,” cherished as a historic symbol in Sierra Leone, was brought down by strong winds and rain in the capital city of Freetown.


The government confirmed the unfortunate event, stating that the 70-meter (230-foot) Ceiba pentandra lost all of its branches, leaving only its colossal trunk standing.

The destructive storm, characterized by torrential rains and high winds, was attributed to the tree’s demise.

Estimated to be around 400 years old, the loss of this prestigious national symbol has deeply impacted Sierra Leoneans.

A Symbol of National Pride:

Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio, expressed his grief over the loss of the Cotton Tree, emphasizing its significance as a revered emblem of the nation.

For centuries, this majestic tree had served as a proud symbol of Sierra Leone’s growth, providing shelter to many.

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Legend has it that freed slaves who fought alongside the British in the American War of Independence sought solace and offered prayers beneath its branches upon their arrival in West Africa.


The Cotton Tree had adorned banknotes and stamps, received a visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1961, and had remained a prominent landmark in Freetown.

Heartbreak and Prayers:

The residents of Freetown were deeply saddened by the destruction of the beloved Cotton Tree.

A hundred mournful individuals gathered at the site, expressing shock and heartbreak.

Gibrilla Sesay, a 34-year-old finance worker, shared his dismay, recounting his encounter with the fallen tree on his way to work.

Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries caused by the incident.

The government promptly deployed police and military personnel to secure the area, while also initiating a cleanup operation.

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Sierra Leone’s Climate-Related Challenges:

Sierra Leone has experienced several climate-related disasters in recent years.

The nation suffered a devastating mudslide in 2017, claiming over 1,100 lives when a mountain collapsed onto informal settlements in the capital.


In August of the following year, an additional eight fatalities occurred due to a landslide.

The country also witnessed fatal flooding in May, leading to the loss of at least 15 lives, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.

These tragedies highlight the vulnerability faced by Sierra Leone during its rainy season, which typically lasts from May to October.


The fall of Sierra Leone’s historic Cotton Tree has left the nation in mourning, with its citizens grieving the loss of a cherished national symbol.

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This towering tree, witness to centuries of history, had stood as a testament to Sierra Leone’s progress and resilience.

As the government launches efforts to clean up the site, the incident serves as a reminder of the climate-related challenges faced by the country, prompting a renewed focus on disaster preparedness and resilience-building measures.


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About the Author:

Lola Smith is a highly experienced writer and journalist with over 25 years of experience in the field. Her special interest lies in journalistic writeups, where she can utilize her skills and knowledge to bring important stories to the public eye. Lola’s dedication to her craft is unparalleled, and she writes with passion and precision, ensuring that her articles are informative, engaging, and thought-provoking. She lives in New York, USA.