Waterford woman who stood up for what was right not just in UK but also in Ghana
Tributes have been paid to Breid Amamoo – an Irishwoman who spent much of her life seeking to increase interracial harmony – who died earlier this year.
Born in Waterford in 1929, she moved to London during her early years and, during her twenties opened a restaurant in the south of the city.
She witnessed, and suffered from, racism at the time but from the outset was determined to fight against it. In 1961, she offered free accommodation to the cast of the musical King Kong who were visiting from Apartheid-era South Africa and had been kicked out of their hotel for making too much noise during rehearsals.
This selflessness saw her receive widespread praise in Africa but she was also subject to harassment by a number of racist groups in the UK.
Breid refused to bow to such intimidation, however, and her kind action led to her meeting her husband, Joseph, who was working as a Public Relations Advisor to the Ghana Mission. He had been sent to meet with her following the news of the offer to the King Kong actors; a friendship developed and subsequently a marriage.
Breid and Joseph were married for 54 years and during that time they lived in the UK, Ghana, Hungary and America. She always had a fondness for West Africa, however, and was particularly taken with the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the beaches. She was never afraid to stand up to authority, especially when she thought it had been gained illegally.
Her actions in 1972, when she addressed the military junta in Ghana and demanded that they release a number of political prisoners, landed her a seven-hour stint in a hot, cramped jail cell before the Catholic Bishop of Accra arranged her release. She was also keen to care for women in Ghana and set up an unofficial counselling centre for those who were suffering hardships and racism in the country.
Finally, she secured a $80,000 donation from the Japanese Government for the construction of a male ward at the hospital in her husband’s hometown of Agona Swedru. Her work meant she was pronounced as a queen in the town and, as a result, was treated to a procession on the shoulders of eight local men.
Breida was described as a “unique and special white person” in Ghana and she was known for her efforts in improving race relations wherever she travelled.
A fan of opera, swimming and people-watching, she also wrote two novels, Born Lucky and Put it in Writing, inspired by her husband’s own achievements in terms of racial harmony. She is survived by Joseph, their two daughters Suzy and Sami, and five grandchildren.