Words of wisdom are always revered in african cultures. These are usually passed on from one with greater experience to another. Hence elders were considered wise due to the experiences they have gone through. While it is possible for various reasons that elders may say a few silly things or predict something that does not come to pass, they will occasionally say something quite profound. In the proverb there is a play with the smell that may emanate from an old person’s mouth. This is to emphasize that one who truly seeks wisdom may have to ignore such discomforts, as the same mouth is capable of sound and helpful advice.
The proverb is used to encourage people to take heed to the wise words of elders or more experienced people. It is particularly useful in showing the importance of overcoming any other discomforts that may come with dealing elders and to focus on the knowledge that may still be dispensed by the elders.