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The Ik Culture – Beehives for Bride Price

26 JUN 2015, By Reedbuck, In Uncategorized, No Comments
  The Ik is an endangered ethnic group in Africa believed to have originated from the Nile delta region during the decline of the Egyptian empire. Today there are about 11.217(Population survey 2011) Ik people living next to Kalimajong and Turkana people in the north eastern Uganda Mountains near the Kenyan boarder. The Ik people are substance farmers whose language belongs to the highly divergent Kuliak sub-group of Nilo-Saharan languages


They kept cattle and they were regularly raided by its neighbors. Due to constant raids, Ik left cattle keeping with the idea of staying in peace with the surrounding communities.

They stay in some twenty small villages along the escarpment between Timu forest in the north and Kidepo valley national park. Surrounded by outer walls, Ik are divided into small families “neighborhoods”. The main activity of the Ik people were hunting and gathering fruits not until 1960s when their land was declared a national park. They went to the mountains and started cultivation, hunting and beekeeping. Ik are said to have been the first people to migrate to the north eastern part of Uganda and they say that the word Ik means “the first one to migrate”. Children are expelled from households at the age of three to form their own groups and to have their own resources like food however this is done in order to survive as they were struck by two strong droughts that caused severe famine and other epidemics. These groups are formed to protect themselves from older children who would take their food.

This cultural heritage is very rich and waiting to be explored so spending a day with the Ik people together with its magnificent scenery of Morungole Mountain Kaabong district is simply dazzling. Surprisingly, the Ik people pay 5 to 10 bee hives as bride price instead of cattle. Other cultural habits like marriage and everyday life of these people are really resourceful. Depending on the number of beehives a man can marry as many wives as he wants. A respectable man owns as many as 50 beehives. Their honey is thick and natural and five liters cost around 20.000/=. The first wife is the most respected among other wives and inheritance is done after divorce.

The access to this place was not easy at all but thanks to US forest service that marked a trail to the Ik villages that has made access much easier however you have to be physically fit due to the ragged nature of mount Murongole which is at 2,749metres above the sea level. Ik are not all that educated apart from one lady at Kampala University who is to be the first graduate of the Ik. Apart from education, Tourism adds a little more income and value to the Ik community.

Hiking up to the Ik villages would be one of the supreme opportunities and experience that is very interesting and a great opportunity if added to your Uganda tour itinerary. As you are guided within the Ik villages, ask these people questions about their lifestyle, leadership and how they raise their children. Enjoy their way of living, discover from them and you can as well enjoy their local beer with them to experience the flavor. This is a one-day Uganda safari trip that requires advance preparation and incorporation into the safari itinerary such that you can have a separate day off your Kidepo trip to visit the marginalized and endangered people.

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