A zombie is a dead person that is brought back to life through means of Vodoun or necromancy, destroying the mental processes of this person through the process. Most people consider zombies only to be the stuff of horror books and movies, but they do exist in Haiti in the present day. Thousands of people in Haiti are considered to be zombies, some of which lead normal everyday lives with families, jobs and are respected citizens. It¹s even considered to be a crime to make a zombie in Haiti.
Haitian Penal Code:
Article 249. It shall also be qualified as attempted murder the employment which may be made against any person of substances which, without causing actual death, produce a lethargic coma more or less prolonged. If, after the person had been buried, the act shall be considered murder no matter what result follows.
To make a zombie, a voodoo practitioner makes a potion that consists of mainly the poison of the pufferfish (one of the strongest nerve poisons known to man, the clinical drug norcuron has similar effects and is used during surgery) that is given to the intended victim. This causes severe neurological damage, primarily effecting the left side of the brain (the left side of the brain controls speech, memory and motor skills). The victim suddenly becomes lethargic, then slowly seems to die. In reality, the victim¹s respiration and pulse becomes so slow that it is nearly impossible to detect. The victim retains full awareness as he is taken to the hospital, then perhaps to the morgue and finally as they are buried alive. Then, at the voodoo practitioner¹s leisure does he come to retrieve the victim, now become a slave, as a commodity (at one time it was said that most of the slaves who worked in the sugar cane plantations of Haiti were zombies. One case in 1918 had a voodoo priest named Ti Joseph who ran a gang of laborers for the American Sugar Corporation, who took the money they received and fed the workers only unsalted porridge). A zombie will remain in a robot-like state indefinitely, until he tastes either salt or meat(so much for ³The Night of the Living Dead²). Then the zombie becomes aware of their state, immediately returning to the grave. The reality behind the zombie has only been taken seriously by medical science within the last ten years, since the use of CAT scans of the brain, along with the confessions of voodoo priests, explaining their methods. Previous to that, zombies were considered mental defective by science or explained as stunts to try to confuse scientists.
There are many examples of zombies in modern day Haiti. Papa Doc Duvallier the dictator of Haiti from 1957 to 1971 had a private army that was said to consist of zombies, called tonton macoutes. These people were said to be in trances and they followed every command that Duvallier gave them. Duvallier was also a devout voodooist, as are many people in Haiti, who lead a voodoo church¹ with many followers. He also claimed that he was immortal and he would rule Haiti forever¹, promising to return after his death to rule again. After his death (a heart attack), he did not come back, although a guard was placed at his tomb, to insure that he would not try to escape, or so someone wouldn¹t try to steal the body (this is a common practice in Haiti, along with the padlocking of tombs, for the same reason). There are also many stories of people that die, then many years later return to the shock and surprise of relatives. A man named Caesar returned 18 years after he died to marry, have three children and die again, 30 years after he was originally buried. Another case involved a student from a village Port-au-Prince who had been shot in a robbery attempt. Six months later, the student returned to his parent¹s house as a zombie. At first it was possible to talk with the man, and he related the story of his murder, a voodoo witch doctor stealing his body from the ambulance before he reached hospital and his transformation into a zombie. As time went on, he became unable to communicate, he grew more and more lethargic and died.
A case reported a writer named Stephen Bonsal described a zombie he witnessed in 1912 in this way:³A man had at intervals a high fever he had joined a foreign mission church and the head of the mission saw the patient die. He assisted at the funeral and saw the dead man buried. Some days later the supposedly dead man was found dressed in grave clothes, tied to a tree, moaning. The poor wretch soon recovered his voice but not his mind. He was indentifed by his wife, by the psysicain who ahd prounced him dead, and by the clergyman. The victim recognized no-one, and his days were spent moaning inarticulate words no-one could understand².
by James Dilworth
Arthur C. Clarke¹s Mysterious World: Zombies and Voodoo BBC and Discovery Channel 1996
Cassiel The Encyclopedia of Black Magic 1989 New York Mallard Books
The Haitian Penal Code
Out of This World Volume 20 1975