Introduction / History The Iku live in the Kachia division of Kaduna state, Nigeria. They are closely related to the Idon people and speak a similar language. This language, called Iku-gora-ankwa, belongs to the Benue-Congo language family. In addition to linguistic resemblances, the Idon and the Iku share similar customs and religions. Islam was introduced to both groups by Fulani attackers in the nineteenth century.
Kaduna, which means "place of the crocodile," is a region flowing with numerous rivers. As a result, the soil is rich and fertile in most of the area, making the Iku an agricultural people. The vegetation consists of low orchard bush with shade trees such as the silk-cotton, baobab (tropical tree with hard-shelled fruits), and shea butter. Deleb palms are numerous along river valleys and supply the people with such items as nuts, oil, and fuel. Some of the area is wooded and is known to attract the disease-carrying tsetse fly. Consequently, some parts of these woodlands have become dangerous to both man and animal.
What are their lives like? Like other peoples living in the Kaduna grasslands, the Iku are subsistence farmers, growing millet, maize, guinea corn, and beans. They also raise animals such as goats, sheep, chickens, dogs, and horses. Goats, sheep, chickens, and monkeys are eaten, along with iguana, which is considered a delicacy. Dogs are used for hunting and for guarding the compounds at night. Fowl are used only for ceremonial purposes. The Iku also engage in hunting, fishing, and some trading, but these are of lesser importance than agriculture.
Each morning, after a light snack is eaten, the men of a household work in the fields until noon. Then, they relax in the shade of a tree and eat porridge brought by their wives. Another break follows around 3:30, after which time they will work again until time for the evening meal. This meal is eaten with their brothers and children. During the dry season, the Iku have less work to do. As a result, more time is spent on amusement and pursuing individual interests.
The women wake before sunrise and bathe behind the house. During the day, they prepare meals and help their husbands in the fields. Time is also spent in collecting nuts, wild fruit, honey, and special medicinal plants from the forests. Most of the small-scale trading is also conducted by the women.
Boys help their fathers on the farm, spending some of their time chasing animals and birds away from the crops. Girls must clean dirty pots in the river, help their mothers prepare the meals, and gather forest products. The older men of the village spend much of their day making sure that the young boys properly tend to the livestock. Often, they may be found simply relaxing or sometimes weaving.
The Iku live in compact villages located either in the hills or in dense forests. Their houses are made of mud, with grass roofs covering an outer porch and granary. Each village consists of a clan community separated into extended family compounds. The village headman handles village affairs with the help of a council of elders.
What are their beliefs? Although many of the Iku have become Muslims, most still follow their traditional religious practices and beliefs. They believe in evil spirits, but they do not live in fear of them. They pray to the "sky god" for health and prosperity.
Many religious practices of the Iku center around an ancestral cult in which the dodo (masked personification of a spirit) represents the ancestral spirits. Rites of initiation into this cult are elaborate and very important to all Iku. Through this cult, ancestors are honored and worshipped.
What are their needs? A majority of the Iku have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel message. Evangelistic work and prayer are needed to win these precious people to Christ.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Iku of Nigeria.
* Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Iku towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will give Iku believers many opportunities to share Christ with their families and friends.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong and growing Iku church for the glory of His name! * Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people. * Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.