Several characters undergo cultural conflict or dilemma in the novel as a result of encountering and embracing the modern culture. Nasila culture, which is part of the larger Maa culture, is also in crisis as a result of clashing with modernity.
Mama Milanoi, wife to Ole Kaelo, is at cultural crossroads. She is in dilemma as far as the question of FGM is concerned. She understands the danger she would expose her daughters in Nasila where there are both positive and negative cultural practices and wishes she could "...shield them and protect them" (p.30). She knows this would not be possible because "Nasila people were very intolerant of those who ignored their cherished cultural sensibilities" (p.30). She knows that she is in breach of Nasila traditions by not having circumcised her daughters by then (p.60). While back in Nakuru and before her husband's retrenchment, Mama Milanoi admits that FGM was a non- issue in the family for "She had regarded the practice as an archaic rite that had been discarded and forgotten. But there it was now, rearing its ugly head and threatening to wreak havoc in the young innocent lives of her daughters" (p.63).
Mama Milanoi is torn between yielding her daughters to the barbaric culture and losing their faith, love and confidence and going against Nasila culture and becoming an alien in the clan. She fears doing anything that would wrong her husband and hence chooses to tread carefully around the matter. She comes out as a weak woman who shies from declaring her stand on Nasila culture when she meekly tells her husband, "Our culture is everything and its rules, our lives" (p.61). Her dutiful role of a faithful and obedient wife to Ole Kaelo comes before her duty to her daughters hence chooses to obey his edicts. She wishes to join forces with the likes of Minik or Emakererei, and fight against practices like FGM but then fears for her marriage, "If she aligned herself with a person who Nasila regarded as having such an obnoxious reputation, where would her marriage stand?" (p.62). She even wonders whether as a family, they are traditionalists or modernists especially by embracing retrogressive cultural values (p.62).
Joseph is faced with cultural conflict when he falls in love with Taiyo who is from his clan. His culture does not allow such a union and hence he is torn between loyalty to that culture or love for Taiyo. He asks himself several questions that reveal this crisis. "Did he have to abandon Nasila culture in exchange of a woman who sneered at its tenets? He considered running away from Nasila and its culture but that left a sour taste in his mouth." (p.137). He finally opts to stick by Nasila culture arguing that it was too valuable to be abandoned in exchange of a woman's love. He finally resolves this conflict by declining Taiyo's love (p.137).
Ole Kaelo's alienation from his culture and embracing a culture that was neither modern nor traditional creates internal conflict in him. He is torn between marrying his daughter Resian to Oloisudori or turning down his request, thereby losing his business. He keeps wondering what sort of a man Oloisudori is and at some point, he has to assure himself that he is a morally upright man so that he can marry his daughter to him (p.194).