Haitian Zombies

MrRING

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#1
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.


Haitian zombies - an interesting phenomenon, particular to those who have seen or read Wade Davis' The Serpent and the Rainbow... "I wann hear you SCREAM!"

There isn't that much online, but it's interesting what is. This site:

http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/z/zombies.html

has the follwing:

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

And this site:

http://www-personal.si.umich.edu/~wmwines/WASP/essays/zombies.html

says that Wade Davis' "zombie powder" has not really been proven to do what they say it can...

Anybody got any more info?
 

Kondoru

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#2
Quite coincidentaly, I have just purchased a copy of William Seabrookes `Magic Island`. Ill let you know when I get it.
 
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#3
Mr. R.I.N.G. said:
And this site:

http://www-personal.si.umich.edu/~wmwines/WASP/essays/zombies.html

says that Wade Davis' "zombie powder" has not really been proven to do what they say it can...

Anybody got any more info?
Yep - Wade is quite heavily criticised on a number of fronts - the book reviews (references if you want them) tend to criticise his style of anthropology while this article goe sinto more details on his flawed studies of the zombie powder:

http://www.chemsoc.org/chembytes/ezine/2002/garlaschelli_nov02.htm

I'd class both books (as well as few other publications of his):

The Serpent and the Rainbow
Wade Davis (1985)
PB (1994)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446343870/revenantmagaz-21
(1997):
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684839296/revenantmagaz-21
HB (1986):
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671502476/revenantmagaz-21
(1986):
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0002176017/revenantmagaz-21
(1988):
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0517608243/revenantmagaz-21

Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie
Wade Davis (1988)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0807842109/revenantmagaz-21
HB:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0807817767/revenantmagaz-21

as suspect.

--------------------------------------------
HA: Good find - despite earlier stories (like Lafcadio Hearn's 1889 "The Country of the Comers-Back") it was Seabrook's tale "Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields" (which is in that book isn't it?) that got made into the first zombie movie "White Zombie" with Bela Lugosi. Both short stories (and a good selection of other early ones and an nifty overview by the editor) can be found in:

Zombie: Stories of the Walking Dead
(1985)
An anthology of stories edited by Peter Haining

I got it for 1p from Amazon (plus p&p).

Given the books date (1929) I'm suprised its not online as othr works are:

-------------------
Lafcadio Hearn:

Last of the Voudoos (1885)
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/hearn/lastvdu.htm

New Orleans Superstitions (1886)
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/hearn/nos.htm


-------------------
Joseph J. Williams

Voodoos and Obeahs (1932)
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/vao/index.htm

Psychic Phenomena of Jamaica (1934)
http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/ppj/index.htm
 

MrRING

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#4
I think an interesting question now would be if Haiti still has an extensive use of zombies in an underground way.
 
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#5
Mr. R.I.N.G. said:
I think an interesting question now would be if Haiti still has an extensive use of zombies in an underground way.
Or a better question: Was there ever an actual extensive use of zombies in Haiti?

The belief in a zombie workforce is widespread throughout (sub-Saharan) Africa (esp. South Africa and Cameroon), and in different forms dates back over 100 years, but there is no actual evidence of it happening despite there being a number of fatalities over it.

In the Caribbean there is certainly a basis for the belief in zombies but I do wonder how extensive their use was in the cane fields, etc. or (as in the African cases) is belief in them more a reflection of underlying concerns (globalisaiton, migrant labourers, etc.).
 

Timble2

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#6
A long time ago, in a TV documentary on on Haiti, there was an interview with a Zombi. He seemed pretty coherent and I got the impression that after 'dying' he acted in zombi-like fashion because that's what he believed had happened to him.

Can't rememeber what finally broke the 'spell' for him, but he was still regarded as one of the living dead by his neighbours and shunned accordingly.
 

MrRING

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#7
Wow, that sounds like a great documentary - any further recall about what it was?

And here is a bit more about modern zombi from THIS MOSTLY ZOMBIE MOVIE PAGE:

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 of thugs called tonton macoutes. These people were said to be in trances and they followed every command that Duvallier gave them. Duvallier had also his own voodoo church with many followers and he promised to return after his death to rule again. He did not come back but a guard was placed at his tomb, to insure that he would not try to escape, or that nobody steal the body. 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 parent’s 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: a man had at intervals a high fever, he joined a foreign mission church and the head of the mission saw the him 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 physician who had pronounced him dead, and by the clergyman. The victim did not recognized anybody, and spent his days moaning inarticulate words.
 
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#8
I would be a bit suspicious about the claims about the tonton macoutes, etc. as vodou has been used a lot to scare people.

One documentary I found interesting was, I believe, Richard Stanley's BBC one "The White Darkness" his diary is in FT140:32-38 and can be found here:

http://www.forteantimes.com/articles/140_voodoo1.shtml

as well as on his unoffical web site:

http://www.kotinet.com/nagtloper/write/voodoo.html

Its a pity the official website is down:
http://www.thewhitedarkness.com

Or it might be another one. In it they met a couple of zombies - they both had mental problems and the weird thing is that the 'zombies' family accepted them as being their dead child but tests revealed they weren't related. It tells us important lessons about grief and wanting to believe but does also cast some interesting light on haitian zombies.

Anyone remember this one? Is it the same as the Stanley documentary?

[edit: Now I'm focused on retreiving the memories I recall that they were investigating the whole vodou area including the spirit bottles and zombie powder. I'll keep trying to come up with key piece of infomration though.]

There is no mention in the FT article.

I'd also question his statement about Faustin Wirkus' autobiography "The White King of La Gonave":

http://www.scuttlebuttsmallchow.com/wirk1.html

being the basis of the film "White Zombie" (although it may have been responsible for popualrising vodou in the States which lead to interest in making such a film). That said his story is fantastic (this is from the above link):

In the early part of this century, the inhabitants of LaGonave, a sizeable island off the coast of Haiti, possessed a prophecy that their old Emperor Faustin would one day miraculously return to them. So when it happened that, in 1920, during the American occupation, one Sgt Faustin Wirkus USMC was assigned to adminster the affairs of La Gonave, the reigning Queen of La Gonave, Ti Memenne, declared him the reincarnated Emperor Faustin himself & forthwith arranged to have him crowned official King of La Gonave in a series of elaborate Voodoo initiations & ceremonies. Fortunately for all concerned, Sgt Wirkus was a thoroughly decent, charitable & good-humored man with (unlike a majority of the Marines on Haiti), a genuine regard for the black islanders (qualities which are evident throughout his account), & he endeavored to wield his considerable authority & influence as judiciously as possible. So it was that, while Sgt Wirkus spent the first part of his Haitian duty hunting down caco insurgents along mountainous trails, he spent the latter half settling domestic disputes, importing improved livestock & seed, delivering & doctoring babies, building houses, repairing chimneys & attending (as the sole caucasian) esoteric native ceremonies.
and:

Dupont history:

"The wealthy du Pont family of Wilmington, Delaware owned a gunpowder plant here toward the end of the last century. This is the same family whose company has grown into today's giant Du Pont Chemical interests and whose descendents include former presidential candidate Pierre du Pont, as well as the whack-job convicted of murder. The Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania tells an amazing little tale of one famous Dupont resident, Faustin Wirkus. Wirkus joined the Marines in 1915, the story goes, so he could quit his job as a breaker boy. He was first sent to Haiti and later to the neighboring island of La Gonave. Toward the island's interior lived 10,000 natives who practiced voodoo and polygamy, and not necessarily in that order. Years earlier, a deposed tribal ruler named Faustin predicted the future coming of a second Faustin who would rule the land. Young Faustin Wirkus soon became king, and 10,000 loyal natives worshiped this breaker boy from Dupont. The Marines, however, were not impressed and they quickly yanked Faustin out of there. "
(from Name Origins of Northeast PA Towns by Mike O'Hara)
Google cahced version

His story is also told in Seabrook's "Magic Island" isn't it?

Also:
http://flagspot.net/flags/ht-hist.html#f2k

--------------
Sidenote: Damn I'd forgotten Richard Stanley made "Hardware" (I once did a very weird thing with children's soes inspired by that film) and "Dust Devil" - I love those films!!! And the Nephilim videos too!! Blimey I wonder if I can kidnap him or something.
 
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#9
Emperor said:
In it they met a couple of zombies - they both had mental problems and the weird thing is that the 'zombies' family accepted them as being their dead child but tests revealed they weren't related. It tells us important lessons about grief and wanting to believe but does also cast some interesting light on haitian zombies.

Anyone remember this one? Is it the same as the Stanley documentary?

[edit: Now I'm focused on retreiving the memories I recall that they were investigating the whole vodou area including the spirit bottles and zombie powder. I'll keep trying to come up with key piece of infomration though.]
Getting warmer - I'm pretty sure its one fo these:

"Interview with a Zombie" - I'm guessing this (or something similar is what Timble was talking about):
http://library.digiguide.com/lib/programme/64877

"Last of the Medicine Men" - part of Benedict Allen's journeys to see different shaman, witch doctors, etc.
http://library.digiguide.com/lib/programme/51712

I suspect it might be the first one - it was done by Roland Littlewood who published his findings in the Lancet:

Zombis May Not Be What They’re Reputed To Be

LONDON, ENGLAND -- October 10, 1997 -- According to Haitian folk belief, zombis are people whose will, awareness and memory have been stolen by a sorcerer. It is believed the sorcerer -- called a boko -- accomplishes this either by casting a spell over a person or by giving them a magical potion. Once the boko has captured a person's spirit, the victim appears dead and is usually buried in an above-ground tomb common in Haiti. The boko then steals and reanimates the body and sets it to work as a slave. According to tradition, a boko can also obtain power over a person who dies of natural causes by snatching the person's spirit shortly after a death before the spirit has wandered away.


Belief in zombis is widespread in Haiti and in many communities there are individuals who are considered to be zombis not only by their neighbours but even their families. Indeed the phenomenon is taken so seriously the Haitian Penal Code considers making someone into a zombi as a form of murder.


But in a paper in this week's The Lancet, two researchers, professor Roland Littlewood of the department of anthropology and psychiatry at London's University College and Dr. Chavannes Douyon of the Polyclinique Medica in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, conclude many so-called zombies may in fact be individuals with psychiatric disorders or brain damage.


In their study, the researchers report on three individuals who were considered to be zombis by their families and neighbours. They found the first individual appeared to have a severe psychiatric condition called catatonic schizophrenia, which can make a person mute and immobile; the second to have brain damage and epilepsy, perhaps due to an episode of oxygen starvation of the brain; and the third individual, a severe learning disability, perhaps due to fetal-alcohol syndrome.


Such people are commonly seen wandering in Haiti and it is possible that belief in zombis became part of Haitian culture as a way to explain the medical condition of these mentally ill individuals and to integrate them into society, the researchers write.
http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/3D806.htm

Which pretty much chimes with my recollections.

[edit: See also:

ZOMBIE

UCL Anthropologist has clue to Zombie mystery

RECENT RESEARCH findings of a UCL academic claim that ‘zombies’ are actually people suffering form acute psychiatric disorders.

Zombification is a common part of Haitian culture where it is believed that corpses are brought back to life by using black magic. Sorcerers claim that around 1,000 corpses annually are stolen from graves and reanimated for slave labour.

Roland Littlewood, of the department of Anthropology and Psychiatry, believes that these ‘zombies’ are actually people suffering from psychological disorders or possibly brain damage or epilepsy.

He claims that the belief in Zombies may make it easier to integrate people with mental disorders into society.
http://www.londonstudent.org.uk/3issue/news/newsinbrief.htm

and:

British prof says zombies a result of de-institutionalization



Medical Post; November 25, 1997;


Read the Full Article, Get a FREE Trial for instant access »

Medical Post


November 25, 1997


LONDON- A Britsh psychiatris and a Haitian doctor have concluded that the zombie culture may be nothing more than a method for integrating the mentally ill into society. This is a far cry from the traditional explanation that zombies are created by witch doctors (boku) by stealing someone's "mind", putting it in a pot and then reanimating the dead person as the boku's slave. A form of murder Professor Roland Littlewood of the departments of anthropology and psychiatry at University College in London said zombies he and his colleague examined were suffering from severe mental illness or handicpa such as catatonic schizophrenia, brian damage and epilepsy or severe learning disablities. About a thousnad people a year in Haiti are zombified. The local penal code classes it as a form of murder even thugh the victim is alive....
Source

and this looks to be an interesting article although my German isn't really up to it (I might get it translated later):

http://www.gwup.org/skeptiker/archiv/2000/1/zombie.html ]

[edit2: and the Lancet article is:

Littlewood, R. & Douyon, C. (1997)
Clinical findings in three cases of zombification.
Lancet. 350 (9084). 1094 - 6.

whats odd is that it isn't listed on their site:

http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol350/iss9084/contents ]

[edit3: Nope thats it alright - they tested the DNA of two of the thre zombies they studied. Neither of whom

The conclusion (initials are the 3 zombies they studied and numbers relate to references):

It is unlikely that there is a single explanation for all zombis.

Mistaken identification of a wandering, mentally ill,
stranger by bereaved relatives is the most likely
explanation4—as in the cases of MM and WD. People with
a chronic schizophrenic illness, brain damage, or learning
disability are not uncommonly met with wandering in
Haiti, and they would be particularly likely to be identified
as lacking volition and memory which are characteristics of
a zombi. Interpretations of mental illness as an alienation of
some vital faculty of agency are common in Central
America and in the Caribbean.12 The ready local
recognition of zombis, as with MM, and their generally
considerate treatment might be seen as an institutionalised
restitution of the destitute mentally ill: recognition and
incorporation of a zombi into a family provides public
recognition and sometimes material advantage. What is
more difficult to understand is the apparent acquiescence of
the “returned relative” not only to being a zombi but to
being a “relative”.

The local understanding that the unexpected death of a
young adult is never a properly natural death (mo
bondiay),12,13 together with the frequency of sorcery
suspicions and the number of people who told us they were
engaged in attempts at zombification, suggest the breaking
open of tombs by bokos is widespread. The use of human
remains in sorcery is so common that most country tombs
have been broken into, and the majority of oufos (temples)
we examined contained human skulls and other body parts.

Given that death is locally recognised without access to
medical certification, and that burial usually occurs within a
day of death, it is not implausible for a retrieved person to
be alive. The use of Datura stramonium to revive them, and
its possible repeated administration during the period of
zombi slavery could produce a state of extreme
psychological passivity.

We cannot exclude the use of a neuromuscular toxin,
topically administered together with a local irritant by a
boko, to induce catalepsy followed by secret retrieval of the
poisoned individual.5 Japanese evidence of tetrodotoxin
poisoning indicates that a full and rapid recovery can occur
spontaneously.7 This would presumably be consistent with
the history of FI who could have suffered anoxic brain
damage in the tomb.

That bokos actually enslave zombis on secret agricultural
grounds is implausible given the high population density of
Haiti. Zombis have never been identified in captivity but
only on their return. Under the Duvaliers who mobilised
the oungans as their secret police,15 and in the lengthy period
of political terror, social instability, and economic blockade
during and after the Duvalier regime,9,15 there were
numerous cases of abduction, torture, sexual slavery, and
secret homicide cloaked in vodu maintained by state terror
and suspicions of sorcery.15,16

A fuller consideration of zombification would require an
analysis of Haitian identity and of the wider political
articulations of village-level conflict and sorcery accusation.
It would be interesting to know how the zombi reflects not
only local understanding of psychopathology but Haiti’s
national history as the black republic17,18 of former slaves
who have continued to face the ever-present threat of
political dependency, external intervention, and loss of selfdetermination.16,18,19
Thanks to Timble for the pointer - that would have niggled me for ages ;)

Now all I need to do is track down the actual documentary.]
 

MrRING

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#10
Another interesting article here:

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/caribarch/zombi.htm

With the following bit:

Who Invented Zombies?

Having conducted archaeological research in the West Indies for the past 20 years, I was always curious about the substantial number of pufferfish and porcupinefish that we we recover from archaeological sites. Initially I simply assumed that the Taino Indians who lived in these islands had found ways to prepare the fish to avoid being poisoned. After all, their staple crop was manioc (Manihot esculenta), a root whose "bitter' varieties contain toxic levels of cyanogenic glucosides (prussic acid). The poison must be removed by grating the tubers and squeezing out the juice before the flour can be eaten. If they had learned to remove one poison, they certainly could learn to remove others.

Then something happened to make me wonder if these fish were not being used in other ways as well. Betsy Carlson identified the huge upper jaw of a porcupinefish (Diodon sp.) in a faunal sample from the MC-32 site on Middle Caicos. This jaw had come from a fish that would have been over 2 feet long, which is about maximum size for a porcupinefish. The jaw was put on display in a small exhibit of Taino artifacts in the Turks and Caicos National Museum on Grand Turk. By chance it was juxtaposed to a display of pottery from archaeological sites in the Turks and Caicos. One of the larger pieces, about one-third of a bowl, was shaped like an animal. Originally, I thought the animal was a frog, because frogs figure prominently in Taino mythology. But on closer inspection, and comparison to published photographs of pufferfish, I became convinced that the bowl was shaped to look like a puffer.

Compare the photographs of the fish and the pot. Notice how both have a bulbous body, both have raised eyes, both have an elongated mouth, and both have nose holes -- though the holes in the pot have been relocated to above the eyes where they served to accomodate strings by which the pot was suspended. It is striking how alike the two images appear.

The archaeology of the site is described in detail elsewhere (GT-2). It should be noted that the bowl was brought to Grand Turk from Haiti around AD 1200. It was found in association with a variety of ritual paraphernalia in a place where they were making disc-shaped beads which were woven into belts to record alliances between caciciques (chiefs). The value of the beads derived from their brilliant red color and that they came to Haiti from across the sea. Given the historical context in which this porcupinefish effigy bowl was recovered one is left wondering whether the Tainos used the tetrodotoxins in these fishes as a means to communicate with the spirits, and to heighten the authority of the behique who could seemingly die and then days later appear to rise from the dead. In other words, were their zombies in Haiti before there was Vodoun?
 
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#12
Emperor said:
Mr. R.I.N.G.: Great find - I've emailed them to find out more.
There doens't appear to be much extra info beyond that page but I'll get them to drop me a line if anything is published.
 
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#13
Interesting from the Dominican Heritage disctionary:

Brought to you from the forthcoming book by renowned historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch.

Zombie, Chief (A)

Zombie was the name of one of the Maroon, 'Neg Mawon', chiefs active in mountains of Dominica from the 1780s. During the Second Maroon War of 1814 a chief called Jean Zombie is also recorded as being active, but it is not yet clear if this is the same Chief Zombie of the earlier period. Chief Zombie of the 1780s was one of the leaders of the central region and his camp was in the heights of the Layou Valley across the river from Jacko's camp between what is today Bells and Atlee. The area is still marked on the official map of Dominica as Fond Zombie.
www.news-dominica.com/heritage/heritage.cfm?Id=346

And searhcing around gives me:

Zombie (A)

As in the case of Jombie or Jumbie, Zombie originates from a branch of the Bantu language especially of the kongo-ngola group in which there is the good nsambi 'God' and the evil nsumbi 'Devil'. Carried across from Africa to Dominica in various Central and West African language sub-groups, nsumbi became Jumbie, Jombie or Zombie in its Creole form. Good and evil were under the same spiritual power constantly tussling for a balance between the two. Songs and religious practices celebrated the contest, but over time only the Jombie/Zombie, the evil spirit, was remembered. In early folklore this Jombie/Zombie could affect your health while you were asleep at night or wreck your good fortune. Practitioners of Obeah were supposed to be able to drive the spirit out or make it affect others. In certain cases, an individual who was drugged by an Obeah practitioner at the request of a client, and who suffered brain damage as a result of the spell, could become a Zombie or 'living dead'.
Which all fits in with Lafcadio Hearne's early reports back from Martinique (Les Pays de Revenants) which suggest the zombie there was a generalised bogeyman, ghost, will of the wisp, demon, etc. and may bridge the gap the Haitian zombie.
 

MrRING

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#14
Interesting article here:
In real life, the zombies come from the Caribbean island of Haiti. They are a person who has been almost-killed, and then later raised from the almost-dead by a voodoo priest, to be used as slave labour for the rest of their miserable life. Zombies can move, eat, hear and speak, but they have no memory and no insight into their condition. There have been legends about zombies for centuries, but it was only in 1980 that a real-life case was documented.

The story begins in 1962, in Haiti. A man called Clairvius Narcisse was sold to a zombie master by his brothers, because Clairvius refused to sell his share of the family land. Soon after Clairvius "officially" died, and was buried. However, he had been later secretly unburied, and was actually working as a zombie slave on a sugar plantation with many other zombies. In 1964, his zombie master died, and he wandered across the island in a psychotic daze for the next 16 years. The drugs that made him psychotic were gradually wearing off. In 1980, he accidentally stumbled across his long-lost sister in a market place, and recognized her. She didn't recognise him, but he identified himself to her by telling her early childhood experiences that only he could possibly know.
And an online documentary on Haitian zombies:
In the West, zombies may be considered the stuff of Hollywood B films but in Haiti they’re part of everyday life. Zombies are taken so seriously here that turning someone into one carries the same penalty as murder. But, as our documentary this week shows, outlawing the practice is doing little to stop it. We look at how Haiti’s troubled political climate is encouraging child sacrifice and murder.

“He is fresh, this young dead one,” states a voodoo priest, gesturing at the decomposing skull of a baby. “They killed it and sold it to me.” The room fills with choking smoke as he throws the child’s bones into a fire and crushes them into a dark powder. One by one, other ingredients are added and prayers chanted to make zombie powder.

The powder will be used to kill or enslave his enemies or those of his clients. Research by the Harvard Ethnobotanist Wade Davis found that the powder contains a series of toxic and psychotropic ingredients, including an extract from the puffer fish which cause complete paralysis. The victim will become dizzy; their limbs will cease up and heartbeat slow to a virtual stop. To all appearances, they will be dead. Then – still completely aware of what is happening to them – they will be buried alive.

But before the zombie powder can kill them completely, the priest will break into their grave and administer the antidote. “If you let the powder kill him, the zombie will be lost,” explains the priest, Marcel. But when the victims rise from the grave, they are no longer the same person. “The drug used has side effects on the brain,” states psychology professor Chavannes Douyon. “This is a schizophrenic person, a subdued person who has lost their conscience. Zombies are people suffering from a psychological disorder.”

Turning someone into a zombie is illegal in Haiti. But Marcel offers to show us one, for a fee. The zombie stumbles into the room in complete darkness. He can barely walk and his eyes are red and vacant. A thick rope is tied around his waist. “His spirit is in the hands of the one who killed him,” explains Marcel. “His master can make it work, make it go and pick coffee beans.”


Only a few people in Haiti know the zombie procedure. But, as priest Andre Elien explains, “If you hate someone and want revenge, you pay a magician to turn them into a zombie.” Haitians have a long tradition of turning to voodoo to solve their problems. During their struggle for independence, it united the slaves against their Christian masters, helping them drive out the colonists. It is the faith of the poor and one of the country’s official religions.

But today, slavery continues in Haiti under a different form. The deposition of President Aristide did little to restore stability to the country. Life is cheap and 82% population live in dire poverty. “Hunger is killing us, we are in a terrible condition,” laments one woman.

At the height of Artistide’s dictatorship, people believe that he had appointed zombies to the secret services to blindly execute his commands. Today, Aristide may be gone, but power in Haiti still resides with those who can control the zombies.
 

MrRING

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The whole jumbie term is very interesting. I was reading about calypso music when I noticed the Zombie Jamberee:
In 1953 Lord Intruder, a little-remembered calypsonian from Tobago, performed his "Jumbie Jamberee" at the Old Brigade Calypso Tent in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The song was about jumbies (spirits) dancing "back to back, belly to belly" in a cemetery. Intruder had the words printed in a calypso lyrics booklet but never recorded it. The Mighty Charmer and King Flash first recorded the song in the 1950s in the United States, where the reference to a Trinidadian graveyard was changed to one in New York. The song became widely known as the "Zombie Jamboree" during the late 1950s through recordings by the Kingston Trio, a top group in the folk music revival.
WIKI has this to say about the Jumbie:
In the folk religion of Montserrat, a jumbie is a ghost, or spirit of the dead. Jumbies are said to possess humans during ceremonies called jumbie dances. Jumbies receive numerous small offerings from Montserratian, such as a few drops of rum or food; they are also the subject of numerous superstitions.

Four couples perform a set of five progressively quicker quadrilles during the jumbie dance, switching out with other copies until someone is eventually possessed by a jumbie.
Looking for more information on the Jumbie Dance, I came across this:
JUMBIE DANCE

The jumbie dance, also known as the “Goat Skin Woo-Woo” dance is the purest manifestation of folk religion on Montserrat, and the matrix of a distinctive ritual music. The African influence is pronounced in this religious therapeutic dance practiced to induce temporary spirit possession and divination. The jumbie dance is held year-round, in cases where an individual wants to contact the spirits, or ‘jumbie’. So powerful is the belief in the powers of the spirits that patients in hospitals are removed by relatives and taken to jumbie dances seeking a cure. The jumbie dance is also used to break the spell. The usual jumbie dance comprises about three persons. The most important instrument in the dance is the French Reel, which is a goatskin-covered drum. When rubbed with the hand it produces a ‘woo-woo’, eerie sound, believed to be particularly effective in attracting jumbies. The fife and the tambourine (called ‘jumbie drum’ or babala) are the other two. The word babala is the authentic African word for the same instrument. The sound and tempo of the music produced by the instruments help to produce in the worshippers a trance-like state which brings special devotees into communion with the world of the dead. The purpose of the dance is to obtain cures for chronic ills, to lift on a person who has been obeahed, or even to expose secrets, causing the guilty to flee from the dance. The benign spirit of a dead ancestor is said to speak through a medium, an entranced or ‘turned’ dancer. So powerful is the jumbie dance that even on-lookers have become possessed.

The custom of holding a jumbie dance is not as widely practiced today.
And finally, some online remarks of a modern blogger about jumbies which makes it sound quite alot like out Halloween ghosts tradition:
Jumbie Leggo
Growing up,every November 1st and second was met with some trepidation.After all ,this was the time when all you heard was the dreaded phrase "Jumbie leggo" used in reference to All Saints and All Souls day. On the 2nd the burial grounds would be transformed to a place of lights as relatives went out to "light up" the graves of their loved ones.

As a child one felt scared at the thought of hundreds of jumbies roaming the area on those two days. Even worse, my grandmother would place a lighted candle on the steps in memory of her deceased relatives. I used to wish she wouldn't since I interpreted it as a light to guide the jumbies home.

Nowadays, am grown and I realise that jumbies do not walk the earth on designated days.The lighted candles do not guide them home but serves instead to keep their memories alive. Not only do I put a candle on the front porch but I make my journey to the burial ground to do my duty.

However, I find myself wishing there was some truth to the old tale. It would be so nice to see the dearly departed if only for two days.
 
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