By Lindenberg Junior
Monica was born in Southern Virginia and is living in sunny San Diego, California since she was a little girl. She is a research assistant in the pharmaceutical industry and during her spare time, just for fun, she work as a professional “passista” specializing in “samba no pé”. “I was always involved in physical demanding activities such as dance, soccer and track and field. I started dancing folkloric dances from Spain, Mexico and the Caribbean at the age of 14 and continued dancing until I started my undergraduate studies at San Diego State University. In completion of my bachelors degree, I started dancing again”.
Monica studied samba batucada with Maria Lane and learned how to dance the samba. It was during this time where she learned about Capoeira Angola. “I had never heard of Capoeira Angola until I met my boyfriend, Jamie. By then he had been practicing Capoeira for a couple of years and invited me to attend a class. I thought the class would be a one time thing but as time progressed I kept attending classes and the more I went the more I wanted to learn about Capoeira Angola, it’s history, it’s rituals, it’s traditions, it’s spiritual aspects, the music and it’s significant connection to Africa”.
Monica thinks that as a black woman living in America developing a connection with Africa is very important to her since that connection was severed from her ancestors during slavery. “Very little tradition was kept alive among African slaves living in the United States. Capoeira Angola allows me to connect with my past through songs and praises to my ancestors, my teachers, my elders and my creator. I really appreciate the ritualistic aspect behind this ancient African martial art”.
Monica Netherly practices the movements and music about 2-3 times a week for about 1-2 hours in San Diego during the weekdays and then train in Los Angeles every other weekend with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Capoeira Angola Center directed by Omoade under the guidance of Mestre Joao Grande – one of the foremost elders and practitioners of Capoeira Angola and a student of the legendary Mestre Pastinha. “Capoeira Angola is not just about movements; it is about skill and strategy. It has taught me many important virtues such as patience, humbleness, humility, determination and dedication. Also has developed my confidence in my abilities and I can always take a lesson and apply to everyday life”.
When we ask her what is happiness to her, she answer, “Being happy for me is to live a productive life, not stressing about things I can not change and staying true to self. My advice for those trying to be happy or enjoy the short life is not to stress – it is not worth it, eat right, exercise, be humble and live life one day at a time!Monica Netherly is a Master of Public Health and a Health & Safety Professional. She provides support to non-profit organizations working with environmental health issues such as environmental racism and water quality within low-income communities.