“A great loss for the nation. A storm hit Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, on Wednesday 24 May. Heavy rainfall over the past few days weakened the Cotton Tree, which finally broke on Wednesday, reports the BBC. President Julius Maada Bio lamented on Twitter the death of this emblematic tree and promised that a tribute would be paid to it. “We’ll have something in the same place that speaks to the great Cotton Tree’s place in our history,” he said on social media.

The Cotton Tree is a witness to the whole history of Sierra Leone. This 70-meter-high giant kapok tree has been a monument since 1792. It symbolizes freedom for the first settlers. Besides the central place it occupied in Freetown, the Cotton Tree is also depicted on the country’s banknotes.

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…

The Cotton Tree collapsed at a very symbolic moment since this Thursday, May 25, the day after the devastating storm, marks World Africa Day and the 60th anniversary of the creation of the African Union.

Idris Elba, the British actor from Sierra Leone, shared his sadness on Twitter while commemorating this important day for the African continent. “Today […] is a historic day for the unification of the continent. Unfortunately, and symbolically, it is also the fall of the Cotton Tree,” he lamented.

Today is the 60th Anniversary of Africa Day. An historic day of unification on the continent. Sadly and symbolically it is also marks the falling of ‘Cotton tree’ in Freetown this morning. Its existence spans several centuries symbolising freedom in Sierra leone. AFRICA DAY. pic.twitter.com/vCXb2W7fVS

Freetown’s iconic Cotton Tree has fallen. The tree, that became a proud national symbol for the West African state of Sierra Leone was felled late on Wednesday 24th May during torrential rains and high winds.

Pieces of the totem tree could take place in the national museum. However, the trunk and roots having remained in place, a new tree could grow back in the same place. But it will take decades and decades for it to reach the height of its ancestor, assuming no further storms disturb its growth.