MOGADISHU - Somalia's historic monuments that were damaged and destroyed during years of civil war have been restored  as part of efforts to revive the country's cultural heritage.  A ceremony to unveil restored statues was held October 18.

Abdulkadir Hussein Mah has long campaigned for the restoration of Somalia's cultural heritage damaged by decades of civil war and extremism.

Mah has been collecting pieces since civil war broke out in 1991.  But the independence monuments have been damaged from fighting dating back to the 1980s.

Mah is now the chairman of Somali Academy of Sciences and Arts.  He said he has sought the help of anyone who has knowledge of the country's heritage.

"The long civil war has really destroyed all kinds of cultural heritage," Mah said.  

The Somali government last week unveiled the restored statues of independence fighters in Mogadishu as part of its plan to revive the country's rich history.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo said his government is the first to complete the restoration of the country's historical monuments.

He said, "We are delighted to be part of the revival of the country's historic monuments, they are symbolic and have so much meaning for the country."

The restored monuments include the Dhagaxtuur monument, which honors stone-throwing Somalis killed in the struggle for independence against British forces.

FILE - Goats graze near the Dhagaxtuur statue, the area of former government offices in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, July 30, 2006.

Among those killed was the father of Somalia's former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdi Yusuf. Paying a short visit to this monument, Yusuf recalled  the painful experience of losing his father in that battle and what the monument means to him.  

He said, "the monument has so much meaning, not only for me but also the entire people because it's the place where the freedom fighters were decimated."  Yusuf added that the incident brought about the independence from Britain ten years later.

Mogadishu is a city emerging from the ashes of civil war while living under the constant threat of al-Shabab terrorism.  

But it is also a city honoring those who gave their lives in the name of an independent Somalia.