The Monitor Newspaper, UgandaTHROUGH MY EYES

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ask your average Ugandan about the Ik ethnic group and you will most likely get a blank stare. The fact is that somewhere in Northeastern Uganda live a tribe numbering 6,500, a people whose existence many Ugandans and the rest of the world are hardly aware of.

Nyx Martinez, a young Filipina lady has saved us the cost of taking the journey up North and brought these people to town by way of an art exhibition entitled “The Ik—Inside-Out”. It will run at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel until Sunday April 24.

Martinez uses the oil pastel technique on felt canvas, which she says gives the work a three-dimensional feel. The exhibition also features photographs by German and Australian photographers.

The exhibition is a result of a November 2005 missionary expedition that reached six groups of the Ik who live in Northern Karamoja in Timu Forest, Kamion, Lapedo and Lokwakaramoi right on the border with Kenya and Sudan. The goal of the visit was to assess the living conditions of the Ik , their immediate needs, and to give them spiritual support.

What the missionaries found was an alarming state of deprivation and social injustice. Due to their remote location, these peaceful farming people are not only fighting hunger and constant fear of survival, caused by constant insecurity stirred by the activities of their immediate militant neighbors, the Ugandan Dodoth and the Kenyan Turkana.

The Ik are also fighting for their identity as a unique people with a unique history and language and being surrounded by the various Karimojong tribes means they are often taken for Karimojong themselves.