Central Position

What is the no-name initiative?

The No-name Initiative (NNI) is a transformational group process that supports expression, emotional processing, awareness dialogue, as well as personal responsibility and accountability. The potential outcomes of this process are not only civic empowerment and activation of individual agency, but also community building and the co-creation of a sense of South Africanness.

Some years have passed since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Although the TRC brought about a much-needed platform for reparation and reconciliation, many who were not directly involved are still left with unresolved and unprocessed feelings and thoughts about our past. South African citizens seldom access platforms through which to express these constructively. This repressed emotional field is augmented by the myriad of difficulties and challenges we are facing today in South Africa. There is desire for change which is being sabotaged by our unprocessed collective consciousness that carries pain, disempowerment, victimhood, disillusionment, anger, guilt, distrust and apathy.

The NNI will endeavour to ignite the principles of deep democracy and transformational dialogue, to spread like healing virus accessing our innate human desire to express, be heard, and evolve as South Africans. The NNI process addresses the individual within the system and the system itself, and  offers an opportunity to simultaneously facilitate the underlying psychological need of South Africans (to transform from disempowerment, through healing, to empowerment) as well as the need for action and accountability through structures (towards social, economic and political redress).

What is in a (no) name?

Many shrug when they first hear about the “no-name” initiative. The name (or lack of) is however an important (metaphoric) component of this initiative. The “no-name” serves as a place holder. It is a place holder to allow the space and opportunity for whatever needs to emerge from the system (‘community’, ‘group of people’, ‘dialogue group’, or ‘team’). One can never know what that is before you enter that group in dialogue. One can only assume – and that is the greatest mistake one can make. Often we have ideas of what ‘should’ happen in a community, village, organisation, and/or country. It is easy to assess a system and then propose and plan what the next steps might be. This tendency for us to try and “fix” is part of our problem. We cannot “fix” others. We cannot ‘fix’ communities. As soon as we endeavour this quite pompous idea, we impose our own structures of beliefs and assumptions upon others – often from a place of power and rank on the vulnerable or ‘group in crisis/need’.

The NNI makes a point of not prescribing what ‘should’ happen in the NNI process – its first and foremost concern is for the system to reveal itself. In other words – to have the group/community express itself on a deeper level so that everyone present can see and/or experience what is really going on below the surface. Once we have access to that, the group becomes more empowered to make the conscious changes and choices they yearn for. In this way it becomes imperative to have a ‘place holder’ to ensure that the opportunity for real transformation (that the NNI provides) does not get “filled” by other agendas and intentions. The NNI is the starting point. As soon as we see and work with the underlying collective emotional field, transformation becomes inevitable and the possibility that opens up with that, infinite.

Finally, the “no-name” also refers to the accessibility and inclusivity of the approach similar to a “no name brand”.