What does daily life look like for the Ik?

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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, but what does daily life look like for them?

To be born again

Lokolem Gabriel is a 25 year old Ik man. He is married to Natyang Hellen and they have two small children.

Gabriel is the firstborn in his family. He lost his father, who was killed by enemies, when he was one. His mother remarried, resulting in Gabriel being brought up as a Catholic. When he was seven, Italian missionaries came to sponsor children through school and Gabriel was one of them. This allowed him to go to school for 11 years.

Accepting the gospel

When he was 15, Gabriel heard someone preaching the gospel. The message was clearly presented and he was especially struck by the importance of being born again. So Gabriel decided to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour. Since then he fellowships with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God church. “I start my day with prayers, I trust God and I can feel how he guides me through my life. I know that God loves me and has a great plan for me.”

Gabriel has been a real help to the Ik TIMO team. He has translated Bible stories during weekly Bible studies, given the team insight into the Ik culture, and even helped out with transport on his motorbike when needed. He also ensured that no interfering activities (football games, hunting trips, or village meetings) took place during the scheduled time of Bible study!

Daily life for an Ik person revolves around working in their fields. For both men and women, each day involves tending their crops. Depending on the season that can mean preparing the ground for planting, weeding, tending crops and then harvesting. Women also have the responsibility to fetch water in the morning and in the evening. They collect firewood and carry it home, and are responsible for fulfilling all the home’s needs. Crops, and therefore food, mostly consists of maize, beans and pumpkins. Some people also grow cassava, tomatoes and matoke but those crops are less common. Men will collect honey and be responsible for building and repairing homes. The Ik live in circular mud huts with a thatched grass roof.

Learning to survive

Children have the responsibility to care for other children. When they are around six years old, they move out of the family home. Children of the same age group live together on their own. They look after younger children but will receive little in the way of parental support. They might be provided with a mug of porridge in the morning (sometimes this is given to them at school), but for the rest of the day they will be left to find their own food. As such, children are very resourceful. Boys will learn to hunt, and scavenge for wild fruit and vegetables from an early age. As school is often cancelled due to a shortage of teachers, they are also very creative at inventing their own games.

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