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39. Clairvius Narcisse, Haiti’s Most Famous Zombie

39. Clairvius Narcisse, Haiti’s Most Famous Zombie

In 1983 Clairvius Narcisse became one of the most famous living Zombies and introduced popular culture to the Haitian Zombie. It was his case that lead Wade Davis to travel to Haiti and explore the culture of zombification. This is the Times article from 1983 describing Clairvius and the circumstances surrounding his zombification.

In it, Clairvius wanders dazed and confused to the home of his sister, Angelina. When he tells her a childhood nickname she is shocked to discover that her brother, who had been “dead” since 1962 was now walking around.

We also learn that many cases of purported zombiism were actually caused by mistaking those with epilepsy, mental retardation and alcoholism with Zombies. Clairvius, however, doesn’t fit any of these stereotypes and records proved that he had, at least on paper, been dead since 1962.

You may have been wondering how people are chosen to become Zombies. According to this article, the chosen are typically those who have transgressed against their families or communities. Clairvius, for example, refused to let his brother sell off their families land.

The article goes on to introduce another drug used in zombification, datura (“zombie cucumber”) which is a powerful hallucinogenic administered after the zombie is removed from the grave. This leaves the “revived” victim in a state of deep intoxication from which it’s easy to get them to work as laborers.

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