The Ik are found in the far north of Uganda bordering Kenya in Kidepo Valley National Park. The IK people are believed to have originated from a large group of kuliak-speaking that came from Ethiopia. IK literally means “head” thus translating that they were the first to migrate and the first kuliak to enter Uganda. They entered Uganda through the South Sudan border and Kenya borders, they occupied the present-day Kidepo Valley national park and they lived as hunting-gatherers in this area. They are sometimes termed “Teuso” a derogatory term meaning people of dogs without cows and guns. The group was initially pastoralists, hunters, and fruit gatherers, when they crossed to Uganda, they were harassed by the Dodoth Karimajongs and the Turkanas from Kenya who were armed, they raided their cows and killed the Ik people leaving them very poor since the IK group was not armed. These attackers Turkanas and Karimajongs forced the IK people to leave the fertile plains. The group (IK) is unarmed and so peaceful and their current population is between 10,000 to 13,000 people. The group has continued to be affected by human rights violations including the loss of their ancestral land of over 70% to the game reserve.

the ik tribe

They occupied the parkland of Kidepo valley National Park and in the 1960s when the area was declared a National, the IK people were forced to migrate to the mountain Morungole, a place that was very dry, infertile, and had no water. They were also expelled from hunting, and gathering fruits and resorted to cultivation, something that was not their doctrine since they were pastoralists and they had lost their cows to the Karimajongs and the Turkanas. The IK live in small villages arranged in clusters comprising their community, each village is surrounded by an outer wall partitioned into family/friend neighborhoods called odoks each surrounded by a wall. Each Odoks is sectioned into walled households called asaks and the front yards for family interactions or sometimes granaries. The IK men are so polygamous whereby a man can marry as many wives as he wants depending on the beehives one has. A respectable man has to have over 50 beehives, a man can give over 10 hives as the bride price. A boy-and-girl relationship is not prohibited in their society as it allows opportunities to flourish amongst themselves, virginity before marriage is not considered so much in the community where adolescents engage in premarital sex.  Sex in the same clan is taboo and adultery (of a woman) is punished by death. Every woman has a hut where she stays and a man has to make rounds in the neighborhood, the kids have to get out of the house at the age of 5 years and they start staying with their grandmothers till they make 11-13 years. A girl will get married and boys will gather in a junior group to build their hut until one reaches the age of marrying and he separates from the rest and becomes independent.

Most of the IK people are not literate, you will find most of them are primary six dropouts including the primary teachers, those that want to go for further studies have to walk a long distance to the neighboring community.

The moment you visit this special group of people at the mountain Morungole which is 2,749 meters above sea level, with a spectacular view of all of Uganda will give you a remarkable experience with this endangered tribe and you will learn more about their cultural behaviors for example paying bride price of 5-10 beehives, goats, chicken and money instead of cows. The IK people are so welcome, once you reach their village, they will welcome you with smiles and their songs, thus adding to tourism and they value Tourism so much since they get some revenue from it. The trail to the IK is 8 km and thus 16 km round and therefore you have to be strong enough to visit this tribe.

Anyone can visit this tribe any time and you can decide to offer anything to this still evolving community.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top