Salone News

Let’s have another Freetown Cotton Tree

26 May 2023 at 18:59 | 615 views


By Pa Kapr Meyla, Freetown, Sierra Leone

The Freetown Cotton Tree generated tremendous national and global interests on its demise following heavy rain storms on 24 May 2023. The iconic and historic Freetown Cotton Tree represented the ideals of freedom and liberty for the freed slaves who first set eyes on it in 1792 and continued to be an image of national treasure for all Sierra Leoneans until its passing this month.

Hardly would tourists and other visitors go to Sierra Leone without visiting the Freetown Cotton Tree for a piece of its history. The current United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer in his reaction to the news about the fallen Cotton Tree, said the Freetown Cotton Cotton Tree was the first place he visited on assuming office in Sierra Leone in 2021.

It is expected that the authorities in Sierra Leone will erect something in the place of the fallen tree as a befitting testament to the great Cotton Tree.

It is on that point that this opinion seeks to canvas support for the idea that a replacement cotton tree will best serve that purpose for the following reasons.

Firstly, if we are to acknowledge the historic significance of the Freetown Cotton Tree and are to show a commitment to preserving its history, there is no other better way to achieve that than by planting a replacement cotton tree.

Secondly, planting a replacement cotton tree comes with the advantage of exploring and showcasing the expertise of Sierra Leonean botanists, conservationists and other experts. Sierra Leonean experts will employ their best expertise to advise on the choice of a replacement cotton tree and put their skills to use by ensuring that the replacement tree is planted, nourished and looked after to assume its rightful place in our national history. This will also be a national tree planting and conservation project for all Sierra Leoneans.

Furthermore, in the era of global warming and climate change, the last thing we should do in a city congested with towerblocks and fossil-fuel-polluting vehicles is to erect another structure made of bricks, mortar and steel. Our city needs a huge carbondioxide-sucking tree right in the middle of Freetown to help, albeit in a small but incremental way to cut down on car pollution and contribute to reducing Co2 in the atmosphere.

Fourthly, history tells us that it always pays off to preserve monuments of national and historic value. They are a source of attraction for locals and tourists to visit.

Moreover, in many other countries of the world where iconic images or structures of national and historic importance are damaged or destroyed, there has been national resolve to replace those iconic images or national structures. The historic Houses of the Westminster Parliament were bombed several times during the Second World War. Today, you wouldn’t even know that the Westminster Parliament was bombed. It was rebuilt and given its historic edifaces and outlook.

The planting of a "New Freetown Cotton Tree" won’t cost as much as the rebuilding of the Westminster Palaces, if we are to use such anology. But we need to keep retelling our history of liberty and freedom represented in the fallen "Freetown Cotton Tree" by planting another magnificent, towering and shining green-leaf "New Freetown Cotton Tree" in the middle of our city.

If this opinion has given you some reasons to believe in the merit of having a replacement cotton tree instead of another structure of bricks and steel in the middle of our city, please let us all make that case louder, constructively and consistently to the authorities who will be making that deicison in the days, weeks or months to come.

Photo credit: Al-Jazeera