Ilizwi lomdala kalitshayi phansi

Kumele silalele izeluleko zabalolwazi ukuze singaweli ezingozini.

English Literal Equivalent: The word of an elderly person will never fall to the ground.

English Meaning: Give heed to advice from the knowledgeable and experienced to avoid danger and hardships.

Context: Before the introduction of formal education in African communities, knowledge was largely based on experience. Many endeavors which the young people embarked on, their elderly had also embarked on in their youth. It was therefore easier for the elders to predict the outcomes of certain behaviors and endeavors because of their experience. If a young person embarked on an endeavor or behavior which is likely to have undesirable outcomes, the elder would warn the youth of the consequences of such actions. Ignoring such warnings and advice proved costly as the this could land the person into danger or challenges that could have been averted. It is against this background that this proverb (which literally means that the words of old people always come true) was developed. This experience became knowledge which the old always shared with the young and the young would ignore the knowledge at their own peril.

Application: The proverb advises that experience is the best teacher. In life, there are people who would always think that they know better than everyone else. Even the smartest or sharpest person will one way or another come across a unique situation which they can do well to heed advice from the experienced.

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