Ik in Uganda

Map Source:  Bernard Heine
People Name: Ik
Country: Uganda
10/40 Window: No
Population: 13,000
World Population: 14,600
Primary Language: Ik
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 85.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.90 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Khoisan
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Ik live in the Karamoja region in the northeastern corner of Uganda in East Africa. This people group has maintained its separate cultural identity and unique language. The primary economic activity of the Ik is farming. They mainly grow millet, maize and tobacco. But in spite of the dominant role played by agriculture in the traditional economy, hunting and gathering are also important economic activities. They also trap white ants and collect honey.

The Ik are divided into twelve exogamous patriclans. The order reflects the relative size of the clans. The men are divided in age groups. The most important social and religious event in the annual cycle is "itówé-és" (the "blessing the seeds" ceremony) that lasts three days in late December/early January and marks the beginning of the agricultural year. The second most important Ik ceremony is called "dzíber-ika mes" (the beer of the axes). Like "itówé-és", "dzíber-ika mes" is also related to farming (November or December), to bless the agricultural tools with beer. Of almost equal importance is "múnúm-és" (opening the harvest), which is celebrated around August. In the 1950s Catholic missionaries were reaching out to the Ik and baptizing. Most Ik belong to the Catholic Church but the priest visits the Ik only once a year. The Ik do not have the Bible in their language and do not have much knowledge of the Bible.

Text Source:   Anonymous