The proverb uses imagery based on the traditional karanga village where unmarried men would be confined to the bachelors quarters and were not expected to enjoy any rights associated with marriage including conjugal rights until they marry. Hence within this arrangement it was observed by our elders that, he who may have or who may marry an aged woman is better than being confined to the bachelors quarter. It was considered in those days (and even in some places today) that a man without a family or a wife is not a complete man. Such was the stigma attached to those in the bachelor quarters that when men sat down to have discussions, men in the bachelors quarter would not be included. While some of these circumstances may have greatly changed, the wisdom of the proverb generally remains that the ideal of having a life companion no matter how impaired they may be is better being alone.
Generally the proverb is used to comment on having something being better than having nothing at all, even if what you have may not be the ideal. In this way it comforts those who may feel as if their efforts or acquisitions are not enough or significant, to remind them that at least they have something. The proverb is used more specifically to encourage men to marry by insisting that the bachelor’s quarters is a not a good place to remain.