The Babongo Tribe of West Africa believe they possess the ability to communicate with zombies. In fact their entire religion, called Bwiti, is based on cultivating a strong relationship with the zombies they claim are all around.
To see zombies the tribe chews on the bark of the bitter iboga plant while drinking a ritual tea. Once the ceremony is complete the undead show themselves to the Babongo, but it’s important to note that these are not considered ghosts or spirits. They are believed to be actual physical creatures, as Anthropologist Mark Leitchman explains:
“The Bwiti zombies are as real and solid as any animal or plant one might find in the forest. They don’t appear and disappear, or fly through the night sky, or even live on another mystic plain. Humans simply have bad vision and the iboga plant acts as a pair of glasses showing us what’s always been there.”
Westerners who have participated in the Babongo ritual report suddenly finding their rooms filled with living human corpses. Some of the zombies simple stared and said nothing, while others offered advice and counsel.
Clearly the zombies found in Babongo culture behave differently than our understanding of how a modern zombie would. There is no flesh-eating or apocalyptic destruction. But the Bwiti like many primitive tribe across the globe have held their undead beliefs and traditions for centuries, proving that the notion of “zombie” is not new in the slightest.