Peace Starts is an independent organization that promotes the International Day of Peace (21 September) in South Africa. It is endorsed by Peace One Day, a UK-based organization that persuaded the United Nations to officially declare 21 September, an annual Peace Day.
Peace Starts stemmed from a World Peace Day concert held at a live music venue in Johannesburg, on 21 September, 2008. Conceptualised by Sabine Bittle and shared with Peace Starts founder Cito, lead singer of WONDERboom, the World Peace Concert served to raise awareness of the International Day of Peace, while encouraging the audience to cross-culture-dress as a symbol of cultural tolerance.
In August 2009, Cito and a group of friends came together in order to officially create the initiative and call it Peace Starts in Your Heart, which was sparked by the brutal murder of Tracey Leigh-Frankish, a close friend of Cito’s. The group’s purpose was to raise awareness and promote peace and universal solidarity amongst Joburg citizens and, that year, organised a peaceful march and concert. Peace Starts in Your Heart was a great success with hundreds of participants joining in the procession.
In 2010, Peace Starts in the Park was held at the Brightwater Commons in Randburg on September 18. The event was enjoyed by over 3000 supporters. Peace Starts in the Park also showcased “Breathe Together”, a collaboration song written and performed by Cito and Paul E Flynn which featured other top South African pop, rock and hip hop artists.
In the meantime, Peace Starts has managed to recruit highly skilled volunteers and in 2011, welcomed Collett Dawson, a respected publicist and profile strategist who, with her coming on board, introduced a whole new vital component to the initiative. Peace Starts 2011, held at Crawford College in Sandton, on September 24, boasting the biggest marketing drive featuring South Africa’s top artists, celebrities and high-profile personalities.
Celebrating its 5th anniversary, Peace Starts launched “Pledge for Peace”, a yearlong awareness campaign that served as a platform for all walks of life, all over South Africa, to get involved through individual pledges and shared their documented actions through the Peace Starts website and social media community. This campaign will continue into 2013-2014.
In 2013, the International Day of Peace was observed at a free music concert, showcasing the best of South Africa’s talent, in the heart of Johannesburg’s CBD. Peace Starts in the City, took place at SkyRoomLive, a rooftop venue that films and broadcasts live performances via live-streaming on www.skyroomlive.com. This was a great opportunity for other South Africans not in Johannesburg, as well as the rest of the global audience to be a part of the event. Peace Starts supported and endorsed Peace One Day’s 2013 campaign “Who Will You Make Peace With?