What is a Gonyette?

wiseGEEK Writing Contest

Gonyette is a Zimbabwean term referring to a heavy duty lorry (with a long trailer, or even two trailers), usually used to transport goods across borders. The word gonyette is spreading fast in some Southern African Countries bordering Zimbabwe.

The word gonyette is derived from the Shona (Zimbabwean) word gonye, which means "field caterpillar". This is mainly because of the following reasons:

1. The way the gonyette turns at a corner resembles that of a field caterpillar (gonye) which cannot negotiate a corner! Every vehicle has to give wide way when a gonyette is turning. Watch a caterpillar when it turns, short as it is!

When I was learning to drive, my instructor told me not to turn the Nissan Champ like a gonyette!!

2. The shape and the heavy look of a gonyette is similar to that of a field caterpillar. When a caterpillar is moving in the fields, it shows difficulty, so does a gonyette due to the partitions of the lorry and the trailers.

3. The speed of a caterpillar is affected by its shape and size, so is the gonyette.

The gonyette is perceived to be a menace to other road users, especially at night, since it cannot totally pull off the road when the driver needs to rest during a long cross-border journey or after a breakdown. Many accidents occur in Zimbabwe due to parked gonyette, especially on the roads that link Zimbabwe with other countries, and mostly at night.

Gonyette are not allowed on residential roads in Zimbabwe because they cause pot-holes and destroy the roads since they are too heavy.

While the gonyettes are meant to transport goods, word has it that some gonyette drivers are making money by ferrying passengers along the road during a cross-border journey. The gonyette is a high wheeled vehicle, making it extremely difficult for female passengers to climb since most females in Zimbabwe where dresses and skirts, rather than trousers. Females really have a hard time getting on to a gonyette!

It is believed that some gonyette driver's are using the gonyette as bedrooms with other people's wives or ladies-of-the-night! The drivers and the ladies believe that the gonyettes are comfortable and secure so nobody will see them. Wonder how the news is spreading so fast when they feel so secure!

So all in all, the Gonyette has been turned into a multi-server:

1. Goods Transport

2. Passenger Transport

3. Restroom

4. Barricade

5. Road digger

6. Brothel

submitted by Florence Matsveru, Zimbabwe