THE IK PEOPLE – KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

The Ik community is the smallest tribe in Uganda, you may have interacted with most tribes in Uganda but meeting the IK people are a unique cultural experience ever. Their total population is about 10000 to 11000 people and live in the Morungole mountains in the Kidepo valley area.

The IK people are believed to have migrated from Ethiopia and first settled in Kenya before they migrated to Uganda in 1960’s and settled in the Morungole mountains which was late made a wildlife reserve by government in some of their hunting grounds.

Way of life in the community

The Ik people were hunters and gatherers but gave up on cattle keeping due to raids from other tribes from Uganda, Sudan and Kenya, they resorted to goat keeping, subsistence farming and bee keeping for survival. They gave up on cattle keeping due to the fear of being raided by the surrounding tribes. The Ik people live in small villages surrounded by an outer wall and all the homes inside there.

Children are sometimes expelled from their homes by age 3-4 and are forced to form groups of those with in the same age range for survival. The ‘junior group’ consists of children between age 3-8 and ‘senior groups’ takes the rest up to age 13 when they marry off and start their own families independently. These children are left to take care of themselves without the help of their parents, it’s not clear whether its culture that causes the neglect or famine in this area but the young children learn survival from each other in their group.

Marriage

The IK people are polygamous and a man can marry as many wives as he wishes depending on the number of beehives one has. A respectable man in society is meant to have at least 50 beehives and will give 10 for dowry for a woman he marries. The girls leave their homes at age 5 and go to stay with their grandmothers until they are about 11–13 years when they get married. Boys team up in a group of about 5 to 6 to build a hut in which they stay up to when that are mature enough to marry and start their own families.

Education

The largest percentage of the Ik people are illiterate which is because of their tradition and the very long distances they have to move to reach the schools. This has however begun to change with some of them embracing education but on a very small scale.

How to get there

Mount Morungole is 2749 meters above see level and the hike there is about 8 kilometers which makes it a full day tour. You will need to be physically fit for you to be able to hike with ease and have an encounter with these mountain people. The IK people are very welcoming people and you will witness this stunning experience as you meet these wonderful people in their home Mount Morungole.