Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio says parts of the iconic cotton tree that was brought down by a storm in the capital Freetown will now be preserved in a museum.
He said the tree, which stood for hundreds of years, wasn’t just a tree, but “a connection between the past, present and the future and we must strive to immortalise it”.
The preservation of the tree will be led by the tourism and cultural affairs ministry, he said, and would serve as a reminder of the country’s shared heritage and history.
Mr Bio spoke when he visited the site of the fallen tree in the centre of the city.
Earlier, the president had described the tree “as a great loss for the nation” and said the tree was a symbol of liberty for early settlers. It also appears on Sierra Leone banknotes.
The 70m (230 ft)-high cotton tree was said to be the oldest of its kind in the country – a government statement estimated it to be 400 years old.
Just 300m away are the Freedom Steps, climbed by newly arrived freed slaves who offered prayers at the tree before making Freetown their home.