Sistah Mona: ‘Ndoto’ means ‘dream’

by Wanda Sabir

Sistah-Mona, Sistah Mona: ‘Ndoto’ means ‘dream’, Culture Currents On an overcast Friday, the last day of Black History Month, what better way to celebrate than with a massage – at least that’s what I thought when Sistah Mona of Ndoto Uzima called me and invited me to a two-hour excursion that literally erased all my bumps, bruises and pain. The brown-skinned sister with a ponytail works like a jazz musician – freestyling, eyes closed – the body on the table talking to her as she skated along terrain avoiding blind spots, walls and other baggage that comes along the road well traveled.

Recently injured – yes again, and this time I wasn’t on my bike; I actually fell at home and twisted my back, so I have been having trouble walking for about a month – I was a candidate for a Sister Mona treatment, an “Afrikan Bhodi Rhubb,” and after a two-hour session, I felt brand new.

Paintings and third-eyes peeked or stared boldly at me as I got to know the sister. Horace, the sentinel, was standing at attention in the bathroom, obelisks at the door, while a series of lovely artwork – large lushly painted landscapes filled with African bodies at work and play – graced the walls.

Mona and I talked for half an hour first about Chicago where she was born, the San Francisco Bay where she was raised, McClymond’s High School where she sprang like Athena into the world, which has been her oyster from professional dancing career to work on Wall Street – her free spirit and gifted hands now her primary tools.

Yes, those hands – so smooth, her fingerprints whisper along one’s back as they cascade over one’s energy points slight pressure, releasing jet lag, torqued spine, residual haints, the kind of boogie monsters one tries to avoid as she traverses the structural racism maze, Obama still at “go.”

I took a warm shower, then sat in the massage chair while Sistah Mona applied tangerine and strawberry exfoliant working the saline pumice into my back and neck – I applied it to my chest and stomach. Delicious flavors vying for my attention as I then went back to the shower and washed the solution off. My skin felt like velvet, maybe softer then and for days afterwards.

It was now time to recline face down on the table. I think I was out soon – the rain splashing just outside the door as cars rushed by. I breathed through the clogged meridians, and those I couldn’t bear I just hollered – I thought about hollering and changed my mind. I don’t holler well. I just told Mona to lighten up and she did as she reminded me to breathe.

When I turned over, 45 minutes later, and got an extra blanket – the yen side is always a little chillier – Sistah Mona applied the mud facial and then, as it dried, she gave me a foot massage. That was really nice. I especially liked the hot towels.

Between the end of the massage and her vision statement, she shared stories my body shared with her – talk about active listening. We entered new paradigms, I kid you not, as I knelt on the table and followed the masseur in a series of stretches. It was certainly a well spent afternoon – well worth the expense at what Mona calls her “welfare prices.”

The business has just moved to a new location, quieter and a little less trafficked. Right now she is near a bar. The grand opening is Saturday, March 20, 6 to 10 p.m. The Grand Opening Special is $175, which includes five two-hour scrub sessions and one free gift certificate for a guest.

Sistah Mona wants to share her wealth with her community and plans to donate a portion of her profits to worthy causes, one of them Maafa San Francisco Bay Area. The details are being worked out. (I need a volunteer to handle this for me. Call me or send me an email). The non-profit will make $25 per $175 Grand Opening Special purchased. This is the start of a five-month fundraising blitz.

Drop in Saturday, March 20, 6 to 10 p.m., to Ndoto Uzima at 3116 Adeline St., Loft 111, Oakland, at Steelworks Lofts. Opening night will feature music and an art gallery opening.

The idea for Ndoto Uzima, which means “live your dreams” in Kiswahili, is to be a healing space where one can take care of one’s mind, body and spirit. Visit her beautiful new website,, for more information or call (510) 547-4829 for an appointment. She’s open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at Visit her website at for Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m. and archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network.