Who invented Chapman?
There are many popular cocktails such as Tequila Sunrise, Pink Mimosa, and also Nigeria’s very own Chapman cocktail, also known as the non-alcoholic punch. The Chapman is known around Nigeria and in many parts of the world and it carries fond memories for many Nigerians. On the occasion of Nigeria at 60, it is important to highlight all things that are dear to Nigerians and the Chapman is one of them.
If you live in or have visited Nigeria or most parts of the world for that matter, chances are that you have tasted a Chapman or, at the least, heard of it. You can go into any restaurant and ask for a Chapman and the bartender will know exactly what you’re asking for.
But who holds the rights to this invention and recipe?
The Chapman is on almost every menu in the country and is loved by millions across Nigeria, Africa, and many parts of the world but unfortunately, like many indigenous inventions, the origin of the Chapman on the internet is overshadowed by a lot of misinformation.
Like many popular dishes and cocktails, there’s a longstanding debate over who actually created this cocktail. One theory that is widely believed is that the cocktail originated in Ikoyi Club, Lagos, Nigeria, and was created by a bartender at the country club who was asked to make something special for his favorite British customer named ‘Chapman’.
Before I go any further, let me take you out of … the mystery: The Chapman drink was not created in Ikoyi Club and it was not created for or by a Mr. Chapman. The Chapman was created by a man called Mr. Sam Alamutu who was later to become known as Apostle Samuel Alamutu of Ogun State.
He was one of the select young Nigerians to be offered a scholarship to study in the UK – as part of Awolowo’s program of educating the Western region – and studied Catering and Hotel Management at the Huddersfield Polytechnic, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England before returning home in 1958. He later also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma at the Centre for Management Development, University of Cambridge, England, and became a prominent professional Hotelier.
The kindness of love and the creation of the Chapman
As a prominent hotelier, Mr. Samuel Alamutu spent most of his time in top Nigerian hotels. The nature of his work and position afforded him many opportunities to wine and dine with his family and friends both at home and in his workplace. Mr.Samuel Alamutu attended a lot of functions and was a connoisseur of top-quality wine and champagne from around the world. According to his daughter Sola Alamutu who provided the context for this piece “, he was quick to pop open a bottle of wine or champagne on special occasions.” Mr. Samuel Alamutu was a family man and when he was out with his beloved wife, she would turn down any offer of alcoholic drink and instead ask for soft drinks – either Fanta, sprite, or ginger ale.
This became a huge bother for Mr. Samuel Alamutu, which prompted him to gather a handful of people and decided to create something a little more exotic that his wife could have at functions, especially those functions hosted by him. He started experimenting with different drinks and eventually came up with a mix of lemon and orange drink with a dash of Angostura bitters (which are from Trinidad and Tobago) and always on the rocks! Et voilà! His wife loved it and so did everyone else. With the positive reviews that he had garnered, he took it a step further and garnished it with cucumber, a lemon slice and topped it off with a cherry on a toothpick, and that is how the famous drink was created and spread across the world, thanks to a man’s love for his wife.
Mr. Samuel Alamutu
How the Chapman spread across the world
According to his daughter Sola Alamutu, Ikoyi Hotel in Lagos was the first place the Chapman was created for the public. Samuel Alamutu also introduced it to other hotels across the country, in addition to the Ikoyi hotel and the others in the NHL chain of hotels which he managed covering Jos, Lagos, Kano (Central Hotel), Sokoto, Maiduguri (Lake Chad Hotel), Calabar.
This is how the Chapman drink started to spread in Nigeria and the world. As a very well-traveled man, he formed relationships with hotels and restaurateurs in countries such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and other African countries. During his travels to the UK, he enjoyed visiting different restaurants and made many friends.
At the time, many of the top hotels were indeed occupied by British guests, which is the root of the confusion that it is a British invention. Everybody loved the Chapman and many British people did spread the gospel of the infamous drink.To set the record straight, let us clearly state here that the Chapman is a Nigerian invention created by Mr. Samuel Alamutu of Ogun State.
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About Mr. Samuel Alamutu
Samuel Alamutu, MON, FIH (UK), FNHCI also fondly called ‘Daddy’ Alamutu by his children, was born on the 13th of November 1933, at Ifo Town near Abeokuta, Ogun State. He was the 4th of 5 children of the Late Mr. Ameen Badru Oreitan Alamutu of Mokola, Ilugun, Abeokuta, and the late Alhaja Asimohu Subuol Abeke (nee Akinlawo of Ikija, Abeokuta). He attended primary school at the Holy Trinity and later the famous Abeokuta Grammar School, Oke-Igbein, Abeokuta, Ogun State from 1947 to 1952 under the principalship of the late indefatigable educationist – Rev. I. O. Ransome-Kuti.
In December of 1952, he passed the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate Examination when he left Abeokuta Grammar School and worked briefly from 1953 to 1955 at the Nigerian Railway Corporation and the Federal Board of Inland Revenue Department of the Federal Civil Service, respectively, before proceeding to the United Kingdom in 1955 to study with the scholarship obtained from the Western Region Government.
From 1955 to 1958, he studied Catering and Hotel Management at the Huddersfield Polytechnic, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England as part of Awolowo’s program of educating the West and mingled with catering specialists such as Ade Adefeso and Wale Akinrinade. He collected an array of impressive credentials before returning home to Nigeria in August 1958. He later obtained a Postgraduate Diploma at the Centre for Management Development, University of Cambridge, England, and became the most prominent professional Hotelier.
In September of 1958, he joined the Nigeria Hotels Limited (the largest – Federal Government-owned group in Nigeria) and worked there in various capacities for 25 years of meritorious service, until his voluntary retirement in October 1983 from the position of Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Company. He then became the director of the Lagos Hotels Limited, Hill Station Hotel Limited, Jos, Western Hotels Limited, and Cross River Hotels Limited.
From 1960 to 1965 he also served as Training Consultant to the Sierra Leone Government for their Paramount Hotel and Cape Sierra Hotel, Freetown respectively.
He was also the director of Nigeria Tourist Board and the first National President, Nigeria Hotel and Catering Institute, the Chairman of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation and the pioneer Chairman, Hotel and Personal Services Employers’ Association of Nigeria.
In 1978, he was conferred with the National Honours Award of M. O. N. (Member of the Order of the Niger) for his pioneering work and dedication to the Hotel, Catering, and Tourism Industry in Nigeria.
Mr. Samuel Alamutu was the longest-serving Managing Director/Chief Executive of the Nigeria Hotels Limited before retiring to establish his own Hotel Management and Consultancy Company – Modern Hotels Limited – for which he was Executive Chairman.
Between 1988- 1998 he owned and managed Park restaurant, in central Lagos. The restaurant was renowned for its haute cuisine and first-class international service. His daughter, Sola Alamutu aka Green queen who, incidentally, also studied Hospitality management like her father, was the restaurant manager.
Mr. Samuel Alamutu loved music, which was an integral part of his life. He was also an avid dancer. He had a passion for photography and took pictures of absolutely everything and loved sports, practicing sports such as lawn tennis and swimming but also indoor games such as table tennis, scrabble, ludo, and monopoly. He was loved by his family friends and peers.
Daddy Alamutu passed away on the 17th of December 2011 but his legacy lives on. He leaves behind his beloved and 5 children.
The volume of misinformation and ambiguity on the origins of this monumental African drink raises many questions: Mainly how do we protect Nigerian/African inventions and intellectual property? How do we ensure that history is properly told and recorded?
There is a company in the United Kingdom that has patented ‘CHAPMANS’ as trademarked in the UK, which is unfortunate, as it is not in any way linked back to its real creator. In Africa we continue to have intellectual property issues and I think It will be interesting to see how this story and many other similar ones, evolve.