The Ik of Uganda
Location and Background: The Ik (called “Teuso” by their neighbors) are a small farming and hunting community squeezed between the large, powerful Karamojong and Turkana pastoralist tribes. The Ik have struggled to survive in harsh ecological conditions—droughts and floods. They continue to fight against isolation and marginalization to overcome their difficult circumstances and enter Ugandan national life as a people with their own culture and voice.
History: The Ik migrated to the area over 200 years ago from Ethiopia and settled in the highlands of Timu. There has been an escalation of raids in the last decade by marauding bands of Turkana. The Ik have also been displaced from their land to create a national park, and consequently have suffered from famine. Their small numbers make them very vulnerable.
Culture: The clans are led by the “J’akama Awae”, an inherited position. The people live in small village clusters and are subsistence farmers, growing tobacco, maize, sorghum, millet and other vegetables, as well as keep bees and hunt. They decry the abandonment of the Ugandan government in helping to educate their children. As an agricultural community they are surrounded by pastoralists, and therefore suffer from threats which push them further and further up into the hills. They keep to themselves and do not mix with other ethnic groups. The most important annual event each December is the“itowe-es” (“blessing of the seed ceremony”) which marks the beginning of the agricultural year. There is another ceremony which marks the “opening of the harvest”.
Religion: The Ik legend of origin tells how God created the herder, letting cattle down from heaven by a rope and giving the cattle together with spears to one group of people. To the other group (the Ik) he gave only the digging stick with the order never to kill. They are very proud of their culture and are traditionally a peace-loving people. It’s only in recent years that they have acquired modern firearms for hunting and protection against raiders.
Pray that the Ik would be ones who receive the seed that fell on good soil-that they would be people who hear the word of God and understand it, and therefore produce a crop with great yield. Matt 13:23
Latest Prayer Updates:
A Sunday school program has begun in one of the churches on the Ik ridge. Praise God for this blessing for the Ik children! Pray that the program continues and that the children receive sound biblical doctrine beginning at a young age.
Forgiveness seems to be a concept that the Ik don’t fully understand and embrace. Even after paying back debts for theft, the Ik tend to hold the term “thief” over others, seemingly unwilling to fully forgive them. Please pray that the Ik begin to have a better understanding of what forgiveness is. And that they can begin to see themselves as sinners in need of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.