In the developed Western world Zombies are viewed as a thing of fantasy. They are a great subject and theme for both movies and video games. Perhaps the most famous instance of Zombies would be the movie Night of the Living Dead. Reanimated flesh, with no other purpose than to kill. This is the Hollywood perception of Zombies.
However for people that live in Haiti, zombies are a very real and very prominent threat. The word zombie is derived from the West African kongo word zumbi meaning fetish or nzambi which means “God”. In Haiti, corpses must be buried within hours of death. This is because the harsh climatic conditions in the Caribbean accelerate the decomposition process. This environment works perfectly for a voodoo priest or “bokor” looking to make a zombie slave. The method of creation of a zombie was learned by Dr. Wade Davis, who writes extensively about it in his books The SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW and Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie .
The creation of the zombie is done not through black magick but through a combination of drugs and chemical compounds. The first chemical used by the bokor or witch doctor is tetrodotoxin, a poisonous chemical found in puffer-fish. The same puffer-fish often used in sushi. The puffer-fish needs to be cut an exact way or else death, paralysis, or even coma may occur. There are actually cases in Japan of people succumbing to the tetrodotoxin in the puffer-fish and being declared dead. However later, they awaken from a very deep coma.
It is when the Bokor’s victim is in this catatonic state that they are able to exhume the “dead” and bring them back as a zombie. Remember in Haiti corpses are buried as soon as possible because of the rapid decomposition rates. So unlike Japan where some one may be “dead” In Haiti they are dead and buried as such. The next step in creating a zombie slave would be to administer a pscychotropic drug, that not only wipes memory but causes a disconnection of consciousness. The plant used is Datura stramonium or Jimson Weed, the plant is given to the victim as neccessary to keep them in a disconnected state.
The result is a human who’s consciousness has been stripped from them. Even today these zombies are viewed with a great superstitious belief. Despite the fact that the procedure is all chemically induced. For those that live in Haiti zombies are a very real and very terrifying thing. Originally the creation of zombies was used as criminal control it has changed since. Knowing the process in which these meat puppets are made it is easy to understand how someone can “return” from the dead.